CHEVROLET RACING IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES
HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO
MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE IN LEXINGTON, OHIO
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER QUOTE
JOSEF NEWGARDEN QUICK WIN QUOTE
JULY 4, 2021
LEXINGTON, Ohio (July 4, 2021) – Josef Newgarden started on pole for the third consecutive race and had to wonder if this would be his day. In the two previous NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, he had led the most laps only to have a mechanical issue take away what seemed to be sure victory for the two-time Series champion.
But today proved that the third time really is the charm. Leading 73 of the 80-lap race, Newgarden skillfully negotiated the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course behind the wheel of his No. 2 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet to take the waving twin checkered flags for his first win of the 2021 season.
It is Newgarden’s 19th career win, his second at Mid-Ohio and the fourth time he has won from the pole. The win moves Newgarden to fourth in the Series’ point standings.
Today’s win is the third for Chevrolet in the 2021 INDYCAR season and gave the Chevrolet 2.2 liter V6 twin turbo direct injected engine its fifth victory at Mid-Ohio since its 2012 debut in INDYCAR competition.
Starting 20th after a disappointing qualifying effort, Pato O’Ward battled to the eighth finishing position. The driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet maintained his second-place position in the point standings.
The remaining Team Chevy drivers finished as follows:
11th Sebastien Bourdais, No. 14 Rokit AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet
12th Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet
14th Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet
15th Conor Daly, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
16th Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Sonax AutoGeek Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
18th Max Chilton, No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet
21st Dalton Kellett, No. 4 K-Line Insulators AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet
23rd Felix Rosenqvist, No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
25th Will Power, No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet
Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou completed the podium.
After a needed break from the road, Team Chevy will join the competition in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in Nashville, Tennessee for a new race at a new venue.
The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will be held on the streets of Nashville on August 6-8, 2021.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 XPEL TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – RACE WINNER
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING IN THOSE LAST FEW LAPS CONSIDERING WHAT’S HAPPENED IN OTHER OCCASIONS THIS YEAR?
‘I’d start each stint and feel like I had everything under control. You get to the back end of it and I thought I was starting to fall apart. So, it was really hard to hang on. But I had my wingman Tim (Cindric) coaching me all the way just making sure I knew what was up to date. But I don’t know what to say other than this team has been doing the job. Everyone has been giving me a hard time asking what’s up with us not winning a race.
“But I don’t think these people at Team Penske could have done anything different. We’ve been in the game almost every race and had great performance and obviously, great support from our partner in Team Chevy. So, it’s great to seal a win here finally on the year. We’re going to need, probably, three or four more of these if we’re going to win this championship. But this team is capable of it. I’m just excited to be back. Two weeks off was enough. And to come back and finally get a win, I’m happy for our whole group.”
HOW ABOUT A WIN GOING INTO YOUR HOMETOWN RACE IN NASHVILLE ON AUGUST 8TH?
“Yeah, it’s great, right? Good motivation. We needed to be the first pit box out at Nashville, so we got that done yesterday. We’ve got some confidence with this win so I feel like we can make it all happen. I always believe, I’ve told these guys, I believe we can win any race we go into. Nashville would be a dream to have a great result. I’m so proud.
“It’s good to have XPEL on the car. I think it’s the first win we’ve gotten for XPEL, so I’m super pumped for that partnership. Let’s keep it up. We’ve got what, six races to go? We can make it happen, believe me.”
PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH:
“Eighth place is a lot better than where we started. I just got stuck there. I didn’t have any more pace than the guys in front of me so it was really tough to get by. But this was a good savings in points in the championship. We need to crawl our way back into it and fight for more wins. Palou has been strong but we have six more chances at it and I’m sure we’ll be there.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 14 ROKIT AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH:
“Not an awesome day today for the No.14 Rokit Chevrolet. There might have been something to play for but unfortunately, we got a penalty for blocking, which I’m not sure I agree with. That cost us two positions in a game of track positions. It was very difficult to make anything from there, and then we got caught behind Jimmie (Johnson) for a long time and that cost us a lot of time. The last stint was pretty painful on the used reds and I had to give up a position to Takuma (Sato). We got something out of it, 11th place, which isn’t super exciting but better than nothing! We’ll move on to the next one.”
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN, NO.3 PPG TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 12TH:
“We needed one of these days, it was pretty solid. We got compromised a bit on strategy and put ourselves in a hard situation, but I learned plenty about saving fuel and I’m going to need that in the future! It was pretty good, I made a couple of moves and though I lost some spots on the pit cycle, we ended up 12th. Overall, we’re making gains and it’s always nice to move forward, regardless of how many spots. We’ve got a couple of test days scheduled between now and Nashville and I’m very excited to get to a new race in a month’s time.”
SIMON PAGENAUD, NO. 22 MENARDS TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 14TH:
“As it turns out, qualifying really hurt us, we were buried in the pack all day. We tried to be aggressive on strategy but we had to take on a lot fuel at the end just to finish the race. It just wasn’t fast enough to make up any positions. Good news is that Josef got the first win for Team Penske this year! A little bit of rest before Nashville, which should be a new and fantastic event for INDYCAR.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON 5G TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, RETIRED FROM TODAY’S RACE EARLY FOLLOWING ON-TRACK CONTACT, FINISHED 25TH:
YOU HAVE A BANDAGE ON YOUR RIGHT HAND, WERE YOU HURT?
“I left my hand on the wheel. I should have probably taken it off. The smoke I made made it worse. I thought I could almost keep going but it went backwards and [I] got nailed. Just unfortunate. Could have had a really good day.”
ON WHAT HAPPENED:
“(Scott) Dixon was on reds. He was obviously very keen to get by. I battled with him. Knowing that corner, I actually slowed it up a lot. He would have gotten me if he gave me more room. He just squeezed me down so tight, but it spun me out. Honestly I should have been aware that he was going to be keen to get by and almost give up the position. I thought if I could it, it would put us in a really great position with those guys whose tires were burning off. It’s hard to give up a spot. He squeezed my very tight. I didn’t think that was very fair.”
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: Obviously joined by our two-time winner here at Mid-Ohio, Josef Newgarden. Career win 19 which also makes him the winningest active American driver in the series on the 4th July.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Marcus did not make it easy. It seemed like smooth at the beginning of the stint. If felt pretty comfortable. 10 to 15 laps to go, set up primary tires, I was chewing up the rears. I was really struggling to make it to the end of each stint, this last lap, as well.
Traffic was a fight today, too. That kind of ebb and flow at the front. Yeah, overall I think it was a strong weekend. I was just so proud of the way how we rolled off the truck. Felt so comfortable.
I think our balance wasn’t as perfect today when the temperature came up. But overall just happy to finally close out with one of those wins. We’ve been there, definitely been in the fight. It’s been a bit hard to get everything to come our way.
At the end of the day we had a relatively smooth-sailing day, which is what we needed. Really proud of the team, everybody with our partners, Xpel and Team Chevy.
Q. The last several laps, what is going through your brain? Are you feeling every slip of the rear tires? When you pass the finish line, to finally finish one, what does that do for you?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Mainly focused on my pace. We were struggling with 10 laps to go. Super fast at the beginning of the stint. Felt like we could pull a gap on Marcus right off the bat out of a pit stop. Those last 10 laps, I was losing pace.
I was just kind of calculating the pace loss, looking at where he was, looking at overtaking, all that. That kept me busy. That’s pretty much what I was focusing on. It’s not the thing you want to be kept busy with. You’d rather be busy looking at the gap growing and taking it easy. That was not the case.
It was a hard-fought win. I think we definitely had the car to win the race, but it didn’t come easy. These guys made us push for it and work.
Yeah, very happy to get the win.
Q. 69 points back. How do you approach each event or do you just look at the rest of the season and go, I just need to beat Alex every weekend? Is that what you need to do to win the championship?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Just got to be the best version of ourselves every weekend. It sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. It’s pretty simple, that’s our approach. Every weekend is individualized. They all count. Ultimately these next six races are all going to add up to something.
We don’t have the luxury of room for error. It’s always nice when you do. We don’t. But I don’t think that changes our approach. We’re out there to maximize whatever our potential is every weekend. I don’t think we’re just looking at Alex. I think we’re focused on ourselves and what we can do. We need to be strong, but I feel like we need to be strong at all points in any championship.
Mentally we’re not in a different spot, but the reality is what is. It’s not too bad. We have to fight for sure, but it’s just a harder fight than we would like.
Q. How rewarding is it giving the team a win?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Each individual on our team is committed to the cause. They know what we’re fighting for, working for. They all exemplify professionalism over the weekend. This weekend was a great example of that. Fortunately we caught what looked to be potentially a race ending (indiscernible). Thank goodness we saw that in warmup. That would have just been demoralizing. I could not imagine.
They’re doing a great job staying not too late. They are pretty fast. These guys are really skilled at what they do. They were out of here by 7, 7:30 last night. Not too big of a night. Great effort by everybody.
They are all in all year. They deserve it. At least to get one win for them is very satisfying.
Q. Was it you that figured out the engine?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah. I felt it right before I was even finished with warmup. I said, We need to look at that, that’s going to be a problem.
There was some hesitation. Nobody really saw it right away. We got in there pretty quickly and saw we needed to remedy something. Complete professionalism by Team Chevy. They’re Johnny on the Spot when they have to fix something or make it right. You saw the performance we had today and all weekend. It was there. We had everything we needed to execute at each level.
A little bit of a potential ripple, but like I said, I’m glad it didn’t.
Q. The fact you had to figure if you just kept the performance the last few weeks, finally the bad one would go away.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I mean, you can’t predict what the racing gods are going to do. It is what it is. It’s like the light is not shining on you correctly for the day. Sometimes it’s a little dark, it doesn’t like you.
It’s been good today. I think the performance has been there. I can’t predict what’s going to happen every weekend, if something is going to go right or wrong. If I look at just the facts of what we’re doing, what’s in our control as an organization, what people are doing around us, everyone’s doing their job.
We’ve been in the fight literally every weekend. Obviously we had a little bit of a back stepping at Indianapolis. Other than that we’ve been fighting for wins every single weekend.
It wasn’t bothering me. I knew it wasn’t working out. Of course at some point you keep doing this, of course it’s going to turn around, things are going to shine on us differently. Today was the today.
Q. How was it great to see the smile on Roger’s face?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It was nice. Really good day yesterday. Celebrating the 50-year mark for the very first win for Roger and the entire organization. Little bit of a ceremony coming to that moment, that milestone. All the boys, they found this super cool trophy just kind of commemorating that win at Pocono, Mark Donohue.
We all felt confident going into today. Pulling into Victory Lane, he was one of the first people I saw with a huge smile. It’s a dream driving for Roger. Gold standard when it comes to racing. To be able to make him happy, it’s everything.
Q. Through your racing career, I know now you keep this calm and positivity over the last month when things haven’t gone your way. Is there something you did early in your racing career that has helped you keep this level of positivity when things aren’t going your way?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: This is something I’ve learned. I’ve learned in INDYCAR. I have always told people I am very (indiscernible) in my INDYCAR trajectory. I struggled a lot at the beginning. I’ve been in tough situations in this paddock, just trying to fight to understand as far as a driver, not a lot of direction.
It’s definitely given me great perspective. All the situations I’ve been have just added to perspective for me on how this series works, how to execute at a very high level in professional sports, racing specifically, what it takes. I’ve learned that along the way.
I definitely learned it when I got to this level. Now I’m with an organization like Team Penske, I can execute upon the knowledge. I have the best of the best around me, I know how this game works, I’ve seen it for a long time. I was like the new kid on the block for a long time. I definitely got a lot of experience now to understand the ebb and flow of the sport.
Yeah, I’m very focused on what we’re doing in every moment, which is controlling ourselves. That’s what we do. My team backs me up 100%.
Q. We saw the gap shrinking between you and Marcus. Did it ever get to a point that it was close enough to where you started to think he might be able to get you on the last lap?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I was doing the calculations, literally looking at the performance loss that I had across the last 10 laps. I was just sizing up how to manage that. I knew the situation we were in. We were good in the beginning. For whatever reason, the last 10 laps of each stint, especially on the very last stint…
Looking at the numbers lap after lap from 10 to go, it looked fine to me. It looked like, yeah, it’s going to be close, he’s probably going to be there right at the end, but I don’t think he’ll have enough to get by. From my end, that’s what it looked like. I was confident enough.
But I knew I had to be perfect. It was not easy. He was much quicker at the end of the race. I feel we were quicker in the beginning, but he was quicker at the end. It was how to manage fuel across the stint, but replacing it with grip, how do you manage the grip and time loss we have relative to Marcus with 10 to go.
I was watching all the way down from 10 to 1. It was touch-and-go. If I made a slipup, he would have gotten by.
Q. The focus it takes for a 10-lap segment or something like that, I know Detroit race two wasn’t ideal for you. When you have a experience like that before, does that help going into the last 10 laps?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, any time when you have the experience of that, it certainly adds to your toolbox.
Detroit was a little more dire. It’s a good example. I was doing the exact same thing in Detroit. It was more aggressive. I knew the likelihood of pulling it off was lower. I thought today was pretty high. If you do things right, the chances are pretty good we can (indiscernible).
Detroit, I did everything I could to try and see it through. But, yeah, it makes you better for the future with future experience for a day like today.
Q. Is there kind of a cool factor being an American winner on the 4th of July?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Definitely. I wasn’t really thinking about it. It was a great weekend. To me it looked like a stellar crowd here. I came in at 9 a.m., rolling in the gates, a big line, tons of people. I saw a lot of young people this weekend. I saw a lot of kids, a lot of teenagers, which was great to see. Nice to see a young crowd that’s enthusiastic. Some are new to our sport. They were having a good time.
This is the essence of INDYCAR racing. It’s a camping weekend like this, 4th of July, having fun with family and friends, seeing some really cool cars around at the track. A fun factor for the weekend.
To come here now with such a great car at the beginning of it, being able to win the race, it’s really cool for us this weekend.
Q. (No microphone.)
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Any time I can race a car, I’m probably going to race a car. The 4th of July, that’s fine by me.
I want to camp here. I’ve never stayed at this track. 4th of July, I’m definitely staying here next year. (Indiscernible) I’m done with that drive. I’m going to stay here next year.
Q. How much confidence does this give you going into Nashville?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, it’s a good momentum for us. We’re about four weeks off, try to keep it up. I’m so excited for Nashville. I mean, I just don’t know how you can’t be so giddy about that event. I know I am.
It’s going to be a huge, huge deal for all of us, not just for the series, but for that city. Can’t wait to experience what that’s all about. Hoping we can have a good race there. It would be great to win a race there in my hometown.
Q. Was there a particular setup issue that made your tires maybe not as good as Marcus’ the last stint?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the balance and the temperature. Certainly on Friday with lower temps, small bump in temps from Saturday. Not looking after the rear-end of the car as good as I thought we were going to. We made some adjustments to that side of the race car and it wasn’t enough.
It wasn’t disastrous. I still think we were one of the best cars in the field, certainly very strong in the beginning of stints. It’s just the back end that left us exposed. Next year we need to clean up that weakness.
Q. Is this maybe a heads-up warning for our road courses like Portland and Laguna?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Like I said earlier, we’ve been in the fight pretty much every weekend. I feel confident we’ve been in the fight every weekend.
We need to keep that up. It’s very clear if we continue to do that in this final stretch, so far so good, we need to make sure we stay on top of it. Performance loss is pretty easy to have in this series from one week to another. We have to make sure we’re consistent.
Q. From Asher: Did your ‘push to pass’ work as planned?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It did. He asked me before the race would you prefer to use it did at the beginning or the end. I said, What should I do? He said, It’s your choice.
I guess that’s fair. Makes sense. I pretty much saved it till the end. Glad I did. I think he put it in my head to save it for the end. Mind tricks. Well, it’s your decision. Made me think about things.
Q. Winningest American driver. Does that mean anything to you or do you just want to be the winningest driver?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, the second part. Look, I’m very proud to be from America. I don’t get too caught up in that. I said this before, the great thing about INDYCAR racing is we tend to attract the best of the best from around the world. If we didn’t have that, I don’t think it would be special to be an American in this championship.
You know you’re competing against the best in the world. Scott Dixon from New Zealand, people from all across Europe, Takuma Sato from Japan. If these people weren’t in this sport, it wouldn’t mean as much.
I’m proud to be an American. It’s an eclectic group, the best of the best. You want to be the outright best, regardless of your nationality.
Q. (Question about Roger having a sigh of relief.)
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think everyone was pretty satisfied it all worked out. It’s pretty tough last couple weeks to see what’s transpired. Not talking we’re in a rut, but it’s just tough to watch. Man, that’s crazy it’s just not working out.
I think it’s pleasant for everybody.
Q. Given everything that happened, was today’s win any more satisfying?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Not necessarily, no. It just felt really good to finally knock one off this year. Not particularly different than any other.
Q. (Question about Alex Palou.)
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I would give him the highest remarks of all the young guys. I think he’s the most complete if you look at it today. You look at the young crop. There’s some serious talent in this series from top to bottom, whether it’s young or the middle guys or old guys.
Amongst the newcomers and the young generation, he looks to be the full package of everybody. I don’t think it’s a surprise to look at what he’s doing. He’s becoming a good competitor, definitely someone you’re going to have to fight like every other, you have to be better than him and be consistent. I think he gets that.