Josef Newgarden Likes What He Sees at Team Penske

November 11, 2016

The first thing Josef Newgarden noticed when he stepped inside the doors at Team Penske headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina was the precision. Not only was everything polished and in order, but the people who work for racing’s most successful team were polished and in order as well.

“It’s been exciting just to see the inner workings of the Penske organization and have the privilege of being a part of the inner workings,” said Newgarden. “It’s really amazing what they do, the type of people they attract and how large their footprint is in the racing industry. Everything they touch and the way they go about it is impressive. It’s hard to not be taken aback by it when you see it.”

Meet Josef Newgarden, the latest member of Team Penske’s lineup in the Verizon IndyCar Series. When the 2017 season gets underway March 12 at St. Petersburg, Florida, Newgarden will be behind the wheel of the team’s No. 2 Dallara/Chevrolet, joining defending IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, 2014 IndyCar champion Will Power in one of racing’s most formidable lineups.

If you’re unfamiliar with Newgarden, here’s his backstory: One of the sport’s most sought-after young talents, he’s a 25-year-old who grew up in suburban Nashville. After winning the Indy Lights championship in 2011, Newgarden joined Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing for the ensuing IndyCar season.

He spent the next five seasons in several variations of the same team, which merged with Ed Carpenter’s team to form CFH Racing in 2015, then became Ed Carpenter Racing in 2016. Newgarden won two races in 2015 – Barber Motorsports Park and Toronto – and produced a dominant victory this season at Iowa Speedway. He also displayed toughness and resilience recovering from a scary accident at Texas in June in which he suffered a broken clavicle and a fracture in his right hand, and returned to action less than two weeks later.

Newgarden finished fourth in the final IndyCar standings this year after finishing seventh in 2015. He has five starts in the Indianapolis 500, with a top finish of third this year. He has started in the first three rows in four of his five Indy 500s.  

His goals heading into 2017 with Team Penske are similar to the ones he’s used his entire career: Take a micro approach; view each race individually as a step-by-step process.  

“My main goal has always been my main goal, and that is to execute and maximize each race weekend,” said Newgarden. “You try to compartmentalize each race weekend. I’ve never looked at the whole championship. When you look at Team Penske as a group, our goals are always to win the Indianapolis 500 and then to win the IndyCar championship. That’s something I’ll adopt, but what I’ve always had success doing is looking at each race weekend as its own.”

That approach should fit well with Team Penske, which has celebrated team owner Roger Penske’s 50th year in motorsports in 2016. The team has won 187 IndyCar races, 14 championships and a record 16 Indy 500s.

“If there is something that needs to be done, it will be done,” Newgarden said of his new team. “The same is expected from the driver, in a lot of respects. If the driver needs to do something, they expect it to be done and executed. That’s really what you get on the flip side from the team. Whatever you need from the team, they will get it done. They’ll figure out a way and they will make it happen.”

Already, Newgarden has begun working with lead engineer Brian Campe, race strategist Jon “Myron” Bouslog and the rest of the No. 2 crew. He’s motivated to execute and return the effort of his crew members.

“That’s what makes them great,” said Newgarden. “They have the people who can facilitate things that need to be done. They execute. These guys execute at the highest level. It’s really amazing to see. As a driver coming into it, you’ve got to be able to match that product. You’re getting that from the team, so you’ve got to be able to match that and deliver for them. That’s what they expect from you.”

Eight years ago, when most teenagers were getting ready for prom, Newgarden was winning races in various open-wheel ladder series. Now he’s reached the pinnacle of his sport, and he’s preparing to make the most of the opportunity.

“It’s a huge honor and a privilege to be a part of the organization and a huge achievement in my career for everyone else,” he said. “It’s a massive achievement not just for myself but for everyone who’s helped me through the years.”