CONCORD, N.C. – How does Josef Newgarden celebrate winning Team Penske’s second major championship in the last 11 months? By driving his Shell Pennzoil Indy car around Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 17-turn, 2.28-mile ROVAL™.
Newgarden was officially crowned the NTT IndyCar Series title earlier this week. He’ll drive a Team Penske backup car on an exhibition run after Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 qualifying Friday.
“I actually think what’s happening now, in the next hour, is going to be the coolest thing I get to do all week,” Newgarden said. “Certainly thanks to our great partner Shell Pennzoil. This is kind of a treat for me; I get to have some fun.”
Newgarden joked about having more fun that he’s probably allowed when he takes his IndyCar to the ROVAL.
“I’ll probably try and get in trouble and just stay out there until they start yelling at me,” Newgarden said. “I’ve already apologized to (team president) Tim (Cindric) if we get fined due to my actions on the track.”
“As long as that’s the only thing we have to pay for today is a fine,” Cindric said. “If we have to pay for the rest of it, we’ll have a problem.”
Newgarden spent an hour running some computer simulations trying to learn the ROVAL™.
“I’ve never seen this track, never driven on it in anything,” Newgarden said. “So I got a little taste on a desktop computer just to try and figure out where they heck I was going and get my gears sorted out in my head.”
Team Penske NASCAR driver Joey Logano was certain Newgarden’s lighter, more nimble race car would go faster than Logano’s No. 22 Ford.
“If you’re not faster than my car in that, you don’t deserve that trophy,” Logano said.
Penske NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney said earlier Friday that simulations showed the Indy car should lap the ROVAL™ 14 seconds quicker than the NASCAR stock car. Newgarden just chuckled.
“I guess I gotta do 15,” Newgarden said. “I don’t know who Blaney is betting in the paddock or what he’s got going on. He’s the expert, sounds like. I haven’t really thought about it.”
Logano and Newgarden have pestered Cindric about doing a car swap at Charlotte, and this is the first step, in conjunction with team sponsor Shell Pennzoil.
Team Penske holds the championship in the two major forms of motorsports in the United States, as Logano is the defending Monster Energy Series NASCAR Cup champion, while Newgarden recently won the NTT IndyCar Series title.
Logano, Newgarden and their two championship trophies were on display at America’s Home For Racing.
Oh yeah, Team Penske and Simon Pagenaud won Roger Penske’s 18th Indianapolis 500 in May.
“It’s hard to believe, honestly, that sitting up here with both of these trophies and both of these guys,” Cindric said. “And you look at the fact that we put together The Captain’s 18th Indy 500 this year as well.”
To purchase Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 tickets, fans can call 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or shop online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
Kids 13 and under get in FREE for the Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina on Saturday. Kids’ tickets to the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 cost just $10.