With a dominating victory at Road America, it appears Josef Newgarden has everything going his way heading into the second half of the year as he tries to go back-to-back as the Verizon IndyCar Series Champion.
Though before taking to the Wisconsin road course, the Team Penske driver shared his thoughts with POPULAR OPEN WHEEL.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: How would you characterize your season so far?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Our season so far has been an up and down year for 2018. We started out pretty strong and going into May had pretty high expectations, but we didn’t capitalize as much as we wanted to. We didn’t have a disastrous month of May, just wasn’t as strong as we were hoping. We put on a lot of emphasis on that and our package was strong, but not as strong as we were hoping on the No. 1 car. I mean, as a team, we had a really good day. Then that continued into Detroit and Texas, so we’re trying to swing the momentum back our way and evolve that into a strong back half of the season.
POW: You’ve won a series championship. I have to imagine the 500 is on the checklist, but what else is there that you want to do before your career is over?
JOSEF: I don’t know; probably as much as I can. Racers are very greedy I would say when it comes to results, so the biggest thing we’re looking to do is find as much success as possible. Wins have become increasingly harder to come by with the competitiveness of the series, so I think you’re always just trying to win as many as races as you can, as many championships as you can, and win an Indy 500 before your time is up. I would just say as much as possible on all different avenues.
POW: What track are you looking forward to getting to?
JOSEF: I’m excited about Portland as I think that’ll be a fun track. I’ve never been there before, so I think that’ll be a great addition to the calendar. We have a lot of really good tracks coming up – Gateway, Iowa, really all of them. There’s not maybe one track that I don’t like. Portland is just an interesting one to point to because I’ve never been there so I’m looking forward to the challenge.
POW: What is the chemistry like between you and your teammates?
JOSEF: Good, really good. We have a really great set-up at Team Penske with all the drivers, all the engineers, and really that chemistry between us and the working relationship is very critical and it’s been very good. We work well at the track together and are able to get the most out of each other on race weekends, always pushing each other to find a little bit more – whether from a driving standpoint or what we need to do from a set-up standpoint. It’s been really good to work with them all and get the most out of it.
POW: I have to imagine filming the Penske Games was a lot of fun….
JOSEF: Yeah, tons of fun. The Penske Games are some of the best fun that we have. It’s funny because everybody gets competitive. Anything you do with racecars drivers will turn competitive, and that was certainly one of those things. We had a lot of fun doing it and it’s fun to be paired up with some of the other guys, whether NASCAR or sports car guys. It’s a good opportunity to get everybody together and show our personalities more.
POW: Out of the episodes that the fans have seen, what has been your favorite so far?
JOSEF: There’s a couple coming up that I really enjoyed. I thought the jenga one was really. It wasn’t the most entertaining from a video production stand-point but it’s a fun game to play.
POW: Who is your racing hero?
JOSEF: I didn’t really have a racing hero growing up. I had a lot of guys that I really respected and admired, just their ability on the race track and what they’re able to do. I always admired (Fernando) Alonso in Formula 1. I always thought he was one of the best at getting the most out of his equipment. On an IndyCar side, I was always a fan of Dan Wheldon and what he could do, so he was one of my favorites from just how he handled himeslf on and off the track.
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