Josef Newgarden put on a driving clinic for the competition today at Road America today as he captured his third victory of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) season and 10th of his career. The defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion started his No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet on the pole, and went on to lead 53 of the 55-lap race around the 4.014-mile Wisconsin natural terrain road course.
Touting both the power and fuel mileage of his 2.2 liter Chevrolet twin turbocharged direct injected V6 engine, the second-year Team Penske driver was relieved to take the top spot on the podium after coming so close in 2017.
“It’s been an amazing weekend,” said Newgarden. “Great fan turnout, incredible atmosphere. I took my time on the cool-down lap because of how packed the place was. I wanted to kind of enjoy it because it was just an amazing atmosphere. It was a difficult one. We had our work cut out for us today. We had to be perfect. We had to be perfect on our fuel mileage, on our pit stints as far as the pit stops themselves, they had to be perfect.
“The team did a great job. Team Penske had a great strategy. I think our Team Chevy engine made a big difference today. I had good power, good reliability, certainly had the fuel mileage that we needed. You had to have all those factors today I think to beat the competition.”
Newgarden now sits fourth in the standings with seven races remaining in the season.
Simon Pagenaud brought the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet to the checkered flag in seventh place after a disappointing qualifying effort that landed the 2016 VICS champion in the 14th starting position.
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot capitalized on a strong qualifying effort to bring the No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet home with an eighth place finish and give Chevrolet three of the top-eight finishers. Teammate Jordan King finished 12th in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet to give the Carpenter duo their best finishes of the season.
Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, suffered a mechanical issue on lap one of the race and was relegated to the 23rd finishing position.
Other Chevrolet finishers are as follows:
No. 14 Tony Kanaan 14th
No. 4 Matheus Leist 15th
No. 59 Max Chilton 17th
No. 23 Charlie Kimball 18th
No. 88 Gabby Chaves 19th
No. 32 Alfonso Celis, Jr. 20th
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon (both Honda) completed the podium.
Next on the schedule for Team Chevy in the Verizon IndyCar Series will be July 7-8 at Iowa Speedway.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 1 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER:
HOW BAD DID YOU WANT THIS ONE JOSEF?
“Really bad. I have wanted to win here since last year. I felt like we had a car that could win then, and it just didn’t happen. This Chevrolet has been a rocket all weekend, but it was not easy. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) was quick and I knew (Scott) Dixon was right behind him, so we were working for it the entire race. These Team Penske guys were the best. They gave me incredible pit stops and I think we nailed the strategy. Tim (Cindric) was coaching me through the whole thing so I kind of knew what I had to do, but it was a lot of work I will be honest with you. Ryan was really pushing me. So just hats off to the whole Team Penske team, I wish we could have all those other guys up here with us, but it’s good to get a win. Doesn’t matter which car gets one, it’s just good to get a win for Team Penske.”
YOU TOLD ME YOU HAVE HAD THE SPEED, YOU JUST HAVEN’T HAD THE RACE EXECUTION. CAN YOU IMAGINE A BETTER EXECUTED RACE FOR YOU OR THE TEAM THAN THIS?
“It was pretty flawless. It was difficult at the beginning and I was struggling a bit to do what I needed to do and gap Ryan correctly. But I tell you what, Team Chevy did a great job this weekend and gave me the horsepower and had great fuel economy. So I am really proud of those guys. Good reliability and everything you would expect from a Team Chevy engine. I think that made the difference at the end of the day.”
HOW MUCH OF YOUR DAY WAS SPENT LOOKING IN THE MIRROR AT THAT 28 CAR TRYING TO KEEP THAT GAP EXACTLY WHERE IT NEEDED TO BE? AND YOU WERE RIGHT, TIM WAS ON YOU A FEW TIMES SAYING YOU HAD TO DO A BETTER JOB ON FUEL (MANAGEMENT)
“I was working my butt off and looking at him every lap. Then I started thinking that I was looking at him too much and I started looking forward because I knew if he was getting too close they would let me know. I focused forward and it was a lot better toward the end.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS TEAM IS BACK IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT NOW WITH ONLY 50 POINTS OUT OF THE LEAD?
“It’s really far till we get to the end of the season, so for me, I am not too worried about it. We just need to focus on it one weekend at a time. That is what Roger (Penske) told me. He said, ‘take it one race at a time, we have got a long way to go’. We are going to be just fine. We are focused on just being fast each and every race day, and we will be there at the end.”
ON RACE: “What a day. I don’t know what to say, I’m worn out. I was doing everything I could to keep (back) Ryan (Hunter-Reay), I knew (Scott) Dixon was close, too, so it was a day of executing. Team Penske did a great job. Tim (Cindric, race strategist) gave me the strategy I needed. The guys were perfect in their pit stops. I don’t know what to tell you. It was a hard-fought day, it was not as easy as it looked. I was looking at my mirrors half the day with Ryan closing in on me. I think that Team Chevy engine made the difference. I had the engine mileage that I needed, the power, good reliability – everything that you’d expect from Team Chevy. At the end of the day, to me, that’s what made the difference.”
SIMON PAGENAUD, NO. 22 MENARDS TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH: “It was a good weekend. Qualifying was a real shame. We definitely had a good car. We made a big improvements throughout the weekend, but we over-balanced and barely missed Q2 where we could have adjusted and probably contended for the pole. It would have changed the whole race because the Menards Chevy was really good in the race. We managed to have a really good fuel saving during the race, so strategy was really good. Tires – when to have to the reds; when to have the blacks. Made a lot of passes on track. We had a blast today. Coming from starting 14th to finish seventh on a track like this with no yellows is pretty outstanding. Very proud of my team. It was a really exciting race. I would like to have been up front more, but it was pretty good where we finished.”
SPENCER PIGOT, NO. 21 DIRECT SUPPLY ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH: “No, definitely not. The start was pretty eventful for us. Obviously Will (Power) had an issue and I got boxed in and the field was just kind of streaming past me on the inside. We fell back a bit on the first lap, but we were able to pass a lot of guys and move up. But the Direct Supply Chevy was really good for us, and the guys did really good on pit lane. It was a little frustrating to get passed by Simon (Pagenaud) there on the last lap, but we did the last stint there on used reds and we were just hanging on there and he just got me. Overall it was a great race and I had a lot of fun. There were a lot of really good battles, and a clean race, but a lot of hard driving.
“We had a frustrating start, getting boxed it and not having anywhere to go when Will (Power) had his issue. We fell back quite a lot, but made up those positions and more throughout the first stint. The car was working really well for me! After that, we just tried to hit our fuel number and have clean stops, which we did. The Direct Supply crew did a great job for me! I would have like to have stayed seventh, but Simon (Pagenaud) had a good pass on me there at the end. Overall, it was a pretty solid weekend.”
JORDAN KING, NO. 20 FUZZY’S VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 12TH : “I had a good start, I made up quite a good chunk of places on Lap 1. I went off line and then was just at the wrong place at the wrong time so annoyingly I lost everything that I made up. The changes we made overnight did improve the car, it just took a little while for me to get used to. It took me most of the first stint to get used to it, but after that our pace was actually pretty good. Other than the stall, if I didn’t mess that up, I think we would have been up in that group that Spencer (Pigot) was in. Not too bad in the end but a couple of small things cost us quite a lot of time on the track.”
TONY KANAAN, NO. 14 ABC SUPPLY AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 14TH: “We missed on the setup. No excuses. We need to get better.”
MATHEUS LEIST, NO. 4 ABC SUPPLY AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 15TH: “Today was a really tough race. We’ve just been struggling a lot finding the right car setup. We can’t quite figure out the best setup for tracks like these. All we can do is prepare the best we can for Iowa.”
MAX CHILTON, NO. 59 GALLAGHER CARLIN CHEVROLET, FINISHED 17TH: “We made such an improvement in today’s race from where we started this weekend. I very much enjoyed that race – it’s such a pleasure to drive this Road America circuit. Obviously, it was a really clean race with no yellows and ended up being a fuel mileage race. We picked the right strategy and we had great stops, but we just didn’t start off in the right place to fully maximize everything we did right. I feel like I extracted everything out of the car that I could and it’s a shame that we can’t do qualifying again and see where we’d end up after seeing how we did in our race today. I’m looking forward now to Iowa – I’ve had some success there so hopefully it’ll translate into a good result for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet in a few weeks.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL, NO. 23 TRESIBA CARLIN CHEVROLET, FINISHED 18TH: “It’s been a character-building weekend for everyone here at Carlin. I’m proud of the guys for trying something different on strategy for the race today. We knew that it was a possibility that the race would go full green here, which meant that our strategy for the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet might not work as well, but we felt like that was a risk worth taking. We’ll go back and look at all of the data, keep learning, and keep taking steps forward. I’m looking forward to going to Iowa in a few weeks. We had good race pace on the last short oval we raced on in Phoenix, so we’re optimistic about our starting point there.”
GABBY CHAVES, NO. 88 HARDING GROUP HARDING RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 19TH: “It felt like we made some good changes overnight and we were able to pass some cars, be aggressive and have fun out there in the first few stints. Unfortunately, we had an issue with one of the air guns, I’m not quite sure what happened, but we ended up running over one of our air hoses. That cost us a drive thru, which obviously on a long pit lane basically ended our day. Anyways, it’s been a very positive change to challenge a bit more and race some cars! We were unlucky at the end, but we made a lot of progression which was the goal. Really looking forward to Iowa now.”
ALFONSO CELIS, JR., NO. 32 JUNCOS RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 20TH:
“I finally have my first race under my belt. It was a lot of learning and a lot to take in. It was important to finish no matter what, so that’s good. I made some mistakes during the race. I had contact in Turn-1 at the start of the race, so we had to replace the front wing during the first pit stop. I am happy to finish the race and look forward to moving on from here.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, RETIRED FROM RACE AFTER LAP ONE DUE TO MECHANICAL FAILURE, FINISHED 23RD: DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED? “Literally from as soon as I started warming it up, there was something amiss. I have no clue. They replaced the exhaust and it still didn’t take so the Chevy guys will take deep look at it.”
ON HIS UP AND DOWN SEASON: “It is unbelievable the amount of DNFs I have had this season. I have never had this many in my career in such a short period of time. Yep, that’s racing. goes one way and then the other. As quickly as it down, it can swing the other way quickly in a good way. When I think about it, we came into the month of May I think fifth in points and left as the leader, so it can change, Man.”
IndyCar Media Conference
Sunday June 24, 2018
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the race winner, Josef Newgarden, driving the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. His first win here at Road America. His third win of the season. His 10th career win.
Josef, after a few difficult weekends for you, how great does it feel to come in here and have a pretty much dominant weekend?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It feels really good to get this day over with, the race for sure, not because you want the weekend to be over, it’s been an amazing weekend, great fan turnout, incredible atmosphere. I took my time on the cool-down lap because of how packed the place was. I wanted to kind of enjoy it because it was just an amazing atmosphere.
It was a difficult one. Hard to keep Ryan behind us the whole race. I knew Dixon was right behind him. We had our work cut out for us today. Ryan had really good pace. We had to be perfect. We had to be perfect on our fuel mileage, on our pit stints as far as the pit stops themselves, they had to be perfect.
I think the team did a great job. Team Penske had a great strategy. I think our Team Chevy engine made a big difference today. I had good power, good reliability, certainly had the fuel mileage that we needed. You had to have all those factors today I think to beat the competition.
It’s a big day. Glad to have Verizon on the car, running fast. I’m happy we sealed it off after yesterday.
THE MODERATOR: It seemed from far away to look like a fairly effortless win. We all know that’s not the case, especially with Ryan Hunter-Reay in your mirrors most of the race. What were your thoughts running into all the laps where you had Ryan basically right behind you?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It was really tough. I was working hard. The beginning of the race was really difficult. We needed to keep to our strategy and save fuel. But Ryan was so quick that it was tough to just stay in front of him and try to work on my race. He was really pressuring me. Finally got a little bit of breathing room. But that breathing room wasn’t very much. It was like half a second, you know, three quarters of a second. It wasn’t much at all.
Just working really hard today to try to get that gap built. Finally I felt like those last two stints we were starting to get to where we needed to. Felt really good on the reds today, from Firestone tires. That’s the tire I preferred to have at the end. Seven or eight to go is when I started feeling comfy. I felt like we had the gap to finish it off.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Josef.
Q. You came here last year not on a rough streak, but after Texas, were able to bounce back, take off on the championship. You won today. Do you feel like you can put that same streak together like you did last year to make a run at the championship?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think we just take it one race at a time. It’s a long way to go. I don’t know if we need that streak. We need to be more consistent than what we have the last four races. It’s just a rough patch that didn’t help us in the points.
I thought Texas was going to be a good weekend for us. It was looking really good until a quarter of the way through the race, then it sort of unraveled. I think we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing, take it one weekend at a time. That’s what Roger told me to do, take it one weekend at a time and we’ll be here in the end.
I don’t know that we need necessarily the exact same sort of stretch as last year. But a good, consistent five or six races, that will put us up nicely to challenge in Sonoma.
Q. What kind of outlook did you have coming to Road America when your last five races have had three double-digit finishes?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: No concern. Just ready to go win. That’s what I thought. I mean, I was ready to win in Texas. Our outlook didn’t really change. We were ready to get back on the board, try to seal off a race weekend. We struggled to seal it off.
The 500 wasn’t a disaster for us, but it wasn’t great. You would say an eighth is pretty good at the 500. For us, where we thought we could be, that wasn’t great.
We just came here trying to get back on track. I think we had pace right from the beginning, which really helped. Then it was just a matter of managing it, making it a normal weekend. We sealed it off nicely at the end.
No reservations coming in, just ready to go ahead it going again.
Q. (Question the track fitting his driving.)
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think our road course cars have been really good. With Team Penske we’ve had really solid road course cars. We’ve had positives and negatives. 500, good car there. Short oval cars have been okay. Our street courses probably need the most work.
I think from a team standpoint, this has been a strong track for us. I think Team Chevy did a great job, made a big difference for us today with the work they put in for the fuel mileage and the power. That kind of carried us to some success today.
Looking forward, yeah, just excited to try and work on our weak points, then hopefully capitalize on our strong points with some of the road courses coming up. This is a great track. I took my time on the way in just because of how packed the place was. It was special to see just the energy.
Q. How special is this place? How impressed were you that it’s risen so far in the IndyCar schedule in stature?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don’t know if I’m surprised that it’s turned into what it has. I don’t think many are, because it’s Road America. This is an IndyCar track. You got IndyCar fans up here. You talk to anyone, they know what’s going on in the series, they’re excited to be here, they like this type of race weekend. You even have fans that aren’t diehard IndyCar fans, they’re casual fans, like to camp, have a great weekend at Road America. Whether you’re a hardcore race fan or enjoy a camping weekend with good weather, this is your track.
Really sad it wasn’t on the schedule when I first got into the IndyCar Series. Now that it’s back, I don’t think anyone could imagine it going away again. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anybody.
Q. You looked like you were having some fun on the podium with the champagne. Any story behind that?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: On the podium? No. I wish we had bigger champagne bottles, to be honest with you. That’s my only gripe, is we need more. We need to somehow lengthen that. It was good to celebrate with Ryan and Scott. It’s pretty fun talking to them.
Someone took the bottle and started spraying me, too. That happens. You just got to expect the unexpected in Victory Lane is what I would say.
Q. Talking to Tim and Roger, they all use the word ‘flawless’ today. In your mind was this a flawless race for you?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don’t know if you can have a flawless race, but it was pretty close to it. We didn’t make any mistakes. I tried to not make many in the car. I had little moments here and there, but there were very few, which I needed to not make mistakes because Ryan was on me the whole time.
We had no mistakes in the pits. Guys were perfect. Strategy was perfect. Fuel mileage was just perfect. Chevy engine was just perfect. Yeah, for the most part pretty well-executed today. I think if we had one bobble, we lose that race. Ryan was there to pounce when he needed to. We needed to be perfect to stay out front.
Q. In turn one at the Josef Newgarden garden, do they need to rename it the Josef Newgarden victory garden?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I like the setup. I went to see those folks last night at the campground. These people had a professional setup with little baby Josefs growing. It was kind of cool. I’m actually very disappointed they didn’t win the whole camp crown competition. The judges were there. I tried to slip them the 50. They weren’t having it.
But I think just on execution, those guys killed it. They had my vote. I wish they would have won. Either way, really cool to see. That’s what Road America brings. It brings those kind of fun things. Hopefully those guys come again next year and do the same thing.
Q. After qualifying to the warmup, did you make any changes or the identical car into the race?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: We went pretty much with our car we worked on on Friday. Different weekend because we didn’t have a warmup. We actually prioritized more race running on Friday because I was so happy with the car right out of the box. Seemed like it had natural speed. We went straight to work on the racecar because you didn’t have a warmup today.
Yeah, just pretty much bolted on what we learned on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, rolled with that. It seemed to work out okay. I think there’s some things we can improve on for next year, but that’s always the case whenever you finish a race. You always feel like you learn something. I think a pretty good job doing what we needed to do today for the most part.
Q. How frequently in your career have you had a race this close to perfect?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don’t know. I’d have to think about it. This was a pretty sorted out day. I think Barber was similar earlier in the year. We started from pole, didn’t have any real misses, a couple close ones, but no mistakes really. Yeah, probably Barber would be the next closest.
You always hope when you start on pole that you can sort of finish things off. You feel more pressure I think when you start on the pole. You almost feel a little bit more at ease when you’re fourth or fifth because you get in attack mode, I just got to go forward, get past people, figure it out. When you’re on pole, you feel like you have more to lose than to gain. I think it’s a little bit more pressure from that standpoint.
But, yeah, I don’t know how many times we had a day like this, but I think Barber is the next closest.
Q. You mentioned a couple of small moments today. Do you recall any of them?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I just noticed I was very good in the Carrousel, at least my perception was we were better than Ryan in the Carrousel. I think he was better to start the lap. With the way I was saving fuel, he was good in one and three. He closed the gap in five with the draft. Once we got into the sixth through the Carrousel section, I thought I was good through the Carrousel. I was really pushing the issue, sideways half the time, nearly wrecking three or four times through there just to make up time.
A couple of those scary moments, but I think you got to push, attack in these cars if you want to stay focused. As soon as you kind of take it easy, that’s when mistakes happen. I stayed on it all race. You can get sideways as heck. Actually I had one that was worse in turn one. I was, like, full opposite lock, way out past the rumble strips. It could have been bad. It was okay. Probably lost a couple 10ths, but you can do that with this thing.
You don’t want to push your luck too far because eventually it will bite you, but you can get away with a lot in this racecar because it talks to you so much than the last one did.
THE MODERATOR: Josef, thank you very much.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports/Team CHEVY PR