June 12, 2022
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Josef Newgarden. The second win here at Road America. Third win of the season, 23rd of your career. Now ties the great Tommy Milton for 19th on the all-time list. Most importantly today the People Ready Force For Good Challenge, $1 million. Half goes to your favorite charity. A spectacular day.
Tell us about it a little bit.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It was a great day. Great, great day. Felt really good going into it. Felt like we had a car to win today. It was just about executing.
My team really put me in position on that first stop. Rossi was not going to be easy to beat today. I felt like he was very strong. I felt like we were a little bit better than him, but he was by no means going to be simple to go by.
That first stop is really what set the tone for us. Once we got in position, it was about getting through the lap markers, the alternate strategy quicker than him, building a gap, maintaining it. I felt like our PPG car was hooked up and had it from Team Chevy on the power side pretty much as always this year.
Really comfy. To be able to win this million bucks, give half of it to charity, is very cool. Very, very cool. I'm sure our recipients are going to be thrilled with that.
THE MODERATOR: On the Zoom joining us are your friends that are going to be the recipients.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Fantastic.
THE MODERATOR: Kathryn Hurley is the founder of the Nashville chapter of Wags & Walks.
Kathryn, say hello.
KATHRYN HURLEY: Hi.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Kathryn.
KATHRYN HURLEY: Hi. We are absolutely thrilled. Congratulations, Josef. I mean, you know what we're going to do this year with all the dogs here in Nashville. That was bigger than me winning the Super Bowl for the Detroit Lions. We are absolutely so, so thrilled.
It's going to impact literally thousands of dogs here in Nashville and allow us to build an amazing adoption center. Congratulations to you, Ashley and your little one at home.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Thank you.
For people don't know, our dog Axel was adopted through Wags & Walks. Kathryn really started the charge in Nashville. Wags & Walks started in L.A. Kathryn started the Nashville chapter for it. They've been doing an amazing job. They work with a lot of great people in Nashville. They save all sorts of dogs. All sorts. You should hear some of these heartbreaking stories that these guys through to find these dogs homes. We need more of that.
We're very happy to be able to get some money to this group because they've done a lot for us and for a lot of people in Nashville. Very thrilled.
Thank you, Kathryn, for all your work.
KATHRYN HURLEY: Thank you so much. Congratulations again.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us. By the way, the $10,000 for each and every race continues through the rest of the season. You may not be done.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: We'll work on it more.
KATHRYN HURLEY: The good news continues.
THE MODERATOR: Blake Maher is the CEO from the (indiscernible).
BLAKE MAHER: Congratulations, Josef, on a big win for you and your whole team. Couldn't be more grateful for the win today and all you do for SeriousFun, a true champion for us.
(Loss of audio.)
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: We want to help these groups as much as we can. To have something like this challenge I think fires you up more competitively, that you want to get it done for them. You know it's just a bonus and a plus for these two groups.
Yeah, not quite as emotional. I just know how impactful it is, so I get really competitive and want to make it happen.
THE MODERATOR: Tremendous day. So congratulations many times over.
Q. What type of dog is Axel?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: He's a mutt. He has a lot of different breeds. He's a smart little fellow. Cute, adorable. 30 pounds. He's a lot of things. He's got Shepard in him. All sorts of stuff. I couldn't even tell you.
Q. You said on the TV interview you had forgotten about the $1 million prize. How can you forget about something like that?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I do forget about it at points. Like, I didn't think about it coming into this weekend. I totally forgot that that was a thing. There's a point you get reminded about it. You're like, Oh, yeah, that's right.
But for me, it's not something you really dwell on because it doesn't matter ultimately at the end of the day. I'm not going to try to win this race because this is on the line. You never approach any race that way.
I want to win the race because I want to win the race. It's a great little bonus. It's not a little bonus, that's a big bonus. It's just one of those things that kind of comes with it.
It's not motivating for me that I have to do something extra because of this. I'm putting my best effort forward every weekend. I know if we can just focus on our job, get the job done, at times I get reminded, This is also going to come with it. That's very, very cool obviously.
THE MODERATOR: Blake, do you have anything else to say? We lost you there.
BLAKE MAHER: Josef, I just wanted to make sure you heard our congratulations. We're so excited for you and the team. Thank you for being a champion for SeriousFun, whether you're at camp, welcoming kids to the racetrack, your ping-pong tournament. This, of course, is such a huge feather in your cap. We're so proud to work with you and thankful for all you do for all the kids at the camps around the world.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Thank you, Blake. We're so fortunate to have people like you and SeriousFun Children's Network. Keep up the great work as always.
BLAKE MAHER: Hope to see you soon. Take care.
THE MODERATOR: Blake, thanks. You've been a great friend for INDYCAR in the past and for years to come.
Q. It seemed like the first pit stop was the key to the race. You were able to beat Rossi out. From that point on it seemed like every time...
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It was going to be that point or another point. Truthfully I was hoping for an all green start, no cautions, because I felt that's where we could find the exposure in Rossi's game.
I was kind of biding my time but felt like I had the straight speed advantage with him. I felt like my Chevy was much quicker than him on the straights. I was going to wait for an opportunity.
All the yellows really took away that potential. We were running most of the laps under caution, so the reds weren't going to drop off as much. We needed to make the difference somewhere else. We came in right on his tail. I made sure, Look, I'm going to give my team ample opportunity, get as close as I can to Rossi on the pits.
If it wasn't going to happen on the pit stop, it was going to be an out lap or a back end of a stint (indiscernible). The pit stop is what ended up being the pivotal point for us. If that wasn't the point, I think we could have made that point somewhere else today.
Q. Pit selection seemed to work in your favor. I believe you were the last pit out.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, yeah. We were first out, if you will, first box, which always helps. You got a clear out. You don't have to worry about typically a lot of the mess going on in the middle or wherever you're located at.
It does pay to start up front.
(Loss of audio.)
Q. Obviously the difference on a late restart this year versus last year was considerable. Can you forget that stuff?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don't really think about it. If you want to talk about last year, it's not anything anyone did wrong. It's a part that failed that I think was a $50 part. No one has ever seen it fail. It's not like it was a prep issue.
I couldn't have affected anything. I or the team couldn't have affected anything to make it different. Had no thought about it. I was just focused on today.
The thing I focus on is we're in position. You don't have many opportunities to be in position to close. I just want to close. That's where my head was at today, yep.
Q. With the two late restarts there at the very end, were you surprised on both cases how much you were able to gap Rossi going up the hill with the green flag there?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Not after watching him. I kind of knew where the strength and weakness was. I felt like we had a good advantage on him in certain areas. We tried to exploit that as best as possible.
It was two really good starts, great attack mode from Team Chevy. All of that contributes to being able to push the gap. I was hopeful we could do that, but I can't say I was surprised. I felt like we had that potential. I knew if we just do our job, we can do that, and was happy to see it kind of come to fruition.
Q. You get a good cut of it the bonus. After buying some baby stuff for the newborn, what is the first dumb thing you're going to buy with the money?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don't know. I don't know. Probably a bunch of McDonald's. Probably over a hundred dollars worth of McDonald's at least. That's probably stop one. After that, I don't know. We'll have to see.
Q. Will had a line in the interview that it's hard to get wins except for Josef, he's got multiple. How hard is it to win now compared to earlier in your career? What do they mean now?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It's extremely difficult. It's hard to win a pole. Hard to win a race. The landscape is not constant these days. I think 10 years ago you used to have sort of consistent trends. When a team would find a performance edge, they would typically carry that edge across the entire year.
Whereas now I think people find these little edges on each other like every weekend. It's going up and down all the time.
You see a McLaren strong at one track, Andretti strong at another, Ganassi pops up, ECR pops up, we're in the mix. Then a Shank pops up. It's never ending.
We say every year it's the closest competition we ever had. Somehow it keeps getting tighter. It must be just the development of this car has really hit a fine point. You're just constantly tuning little things now, millimeters of changes.
The driving style is getting tighter, with simulators, all this stuff you can analyze. It's impossible to hide something from the competition.
Yeah, it is very difficult to win these races consistently. To be able to put multiple on the board, it's a job well done to everybody in the 2 group.
Q. Three wins is like what drivers are looking for, if you want to win the championship, you have to win three races. Do you feel like you've got the momentum in the championship or is that still with Marcus after the 500 win?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It's been a little bit too up and down for us. Kind of feast or famine. I think we genuinely had the potential for four or five wins up to this point. So we've done three of the potential five, let's say. The other ones that we weren't winning, we were finishing too far back.
We've got to up our consistency. It's a little abnormal for us. I feel like we're a fairly consistent group. So I'm not going to lose sleep on why that was happening. Sometimes you get in these little micro trends where we didn't have the consistency we needed.
Number one, we need to clean that up. We need to win a couple more races before the year is out because of the way the first part of the season went. We definitely have wins on the board. But definitely more than wins, consistency is going to rule the day this year, for sure.
Q. (No microphone.)
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I mean, I felt good coming into the season. I felt good about last year. I remember we were getting hounded, up to this point last year we were getting hounded on why we hadn't won a race.
For me it was funny because I'm like, You guys must not be inside our internal network and seeing. We're just totally fine, totally fine. There's not a problem with the team. We're where we need to be. Just wasn't clicking off for some reason.
I felt that way going into this season and I feel that way now. I think we're in a good spot. We have to clean up the consistency. For one reason or another that didn't happen up to this point. I know if we keep doing our normal thing, that will come.
We just need to keep on a good track here till the finish. Feel very positive about our group. I mean, we don't have anything negative going on. Honestly, there's nothing that I could be complaining about. We got a really strong team, everything is in a good place, great partnerships with Tammy Chevy and everyone else. Yeah, feel good about it.
Q. (Question about the late caution.)
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I mean, I think I cooked my stuff a little bit too much on that second stint. I was aggressive with traffic. That's where I think I got the gap, was I was more aggressive than he was cutting through either a lap marker or an alternate strategy. So that ripped a really nice gap for us.
After that it was more just trying to manage it. I kept watching my gap to him. I was trying to study where he was strong and where I was weak. I just kind of focused on tire management after that point.
I could tell he was very good in the beginning through 75% of the stint. I think we had the edge in the last 25%. Look, we have a good gap here, got more overtake, let's just try to manage tires. That was my game plan as I got to middle to finish. I think that worked well for us.
I was surprised. We didn't get to see what was going to happen in the first stint because of all the yellows. That's where I thought I was going to find the exposure for him. I was a little bit worried, we missed that opportunity, but let's see what happens on the primaries. It worked out. I think we had a fast car all around.
Q. Can you explain how restarts work here.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, typically in INDYCAR now the rule is there's a restart zone that's designated. Typically it's around the final corner, sometimes sort of encompassing the entire final corner, sometimes it's a bit more.
In our case, it's kind of 13 to 14, that lead-up into 14 is the restart zone. So the procedure for us is the pace car lets us get temperature, does a pretty quick lap, then slows us down. By the time we get to the carrousel, packs us up. As we get to turn 12, he tries to get away. We let him get away to where we can start 13 to 14. That's our process.
Q. (No microphone.)
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Rossi was as tight as he could be to me when I got on the gas. He definitely wasn't getting jacked up, to use your words. It's just the point. INDYCAR sort of designates the restart area or zone that you can start in. We know that. That's what I did today.
Q. From our point of view once you got the lead, it seemed like you were pretty comfortable. Was it that comfortable to you? Anything you think you could have done better?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I would say it was only fairly comfortable today. I didn't feel like we were lights out better than anybody. But I felt like we were just as good. I felt we were kind of toe-to-toe with Rossi today. It was just about managing the tires the best.
I think raw pace on the primaries, we were probably similar. It was a matter of when you wanted to push them.
Yeah, what can we learn? There's always a lot of little stuff. We're going to go back and analyze the sectors, look at straights versus corners, mechanical changes that we made. We're going to analyze all of it and see where we can optimize for next year.
At this point the broad strokes are very good for this track, these conditions. Now that I'm also saying that, we're going to come back next year and it's going to be a completely new challenge, they're going to resurface this place. We are still going to analyze and learn what we can from this season, but pretty open book next year.
Q. This track could be quite a bit different. Do you think that's a good thing? Do you think it needs it or rather it stay like it is?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I'm indifferent. If it's up to me...
(Loss of audio.)
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