Newgarden willing to put Team Penske ahead of personal IndyCar title ambition

Josef Newgarden celebrates his Gateway Motorsports Park victory

Josef Newgarden is willing to put Team Penske’s IndyCar title hopes ahead of his own personal ambition as he battles team-mate Will Power, among others, for the 2022 crown.

With two events to go, the equivalent of one perfect event, or 54 points, covers a top six in the series standings split evenly between Penske’s three drivers and three from Chip Ganassi Racing.

However, Newgarden is tantalisingly close to the series lead at just three points behind team-mate Power, and hence would be guaranteed top spot on the table if he were to win this coming weekend at Portland.

Despite that carrot, the two-time series winner sees little changing in terms of the intra-team battle.

“I think we’re just going to race like we always do,” said Newgarden, who won last time out at Gateway Motorsports Park.

“It’s kind of as simple as that. We race all year, we race hard.

“It’s not going to be the first time Will and I have raced together. We’ve had many, many races that have been in lockstep, one-two, pit strategy, the whole thing. We’ll just fight it out as normal.

“Clearly, we don’t want to do something that jeopardises the whole group because it is bigger than us.

“At the end of the day we’ve got three cars in the fight still. There’s nothing that matters more than putting a Team Penske car in Victory Lane.

“As much as I want that to be – believe me I do; I will work to be that person – we also have to just make sure we remember that it’s about all of us and it’s about all the effort we put in.

“We have to make sure one car secures the championship.

“It’s just a balance. We’re just going to race like we always do. Hopefully it doesn’t turn ugly at some point.”

The question which had been put to Newgarden was whether or not the same rule applies to Penske’s IndyCar drivers as it does to its NASCAR drivers, namely that they are allowed to race each other but not wreck each other.

It was not too long ago that those steering The Captain’s Mustang stock cars did just that, when Brad Keselowski nudged Joey Logano and set off a huge crash on the last lap of last year’s Daytona 500, when they had been running first and second.

At the time, Roger Penske said, “If one wins, the whole team wins, so we cannot forget that.

“These guys are contracted with us. They’re part of the success we’ve had.”

Behind Power and Newgarden, Ganassi’s Scott Dixon is third in the standings at a further 11 points off the pace, from Marcus Ericsson, Alex Palou, and Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, who is now firmly an outsider in the title race.

Track action at Portland starts on Saturday morning (AEST), with Practice 2, Qualifying, and the race itself all live and ad-free on Stan Sport.

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