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Penske “feels like home” - Newgarden on his multi-year extension

Written by Archie O’Reilly

Josef Newgarden has said Team Penske “very much feels like home” after signing a multi-year contract extension, taking him into his ninth season and beyond with the team. 

“They've provided me with every opportunity that I could have ever dreamed of,” he said, speaking immediately after qualifying third for the Detroit Grand Prix. “I’ve enjoyed my time here immensely. There’s nothing that’s ever been missing.”

The news came less than one week after the two-time IndyCar champion became the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 back-to-back since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002. He described it as “certainly a privilege” to be driving and succeeding for Penske.

“I’ve had a dream opportunity across my entire career,” he added. “I remember dreaming of racing when I was a 13-year-old kid. Never thought I would drive professionally. Never thought I’d be able to make my life in this sport. The opportunities have been tremendous every step of the way. All of it’s been more wild than I could have ever dreamed as a kid.

“We’re coming off a great Indianapolis 500 - never thought we’d win one of those, at least with me driving. Certainly the team was no stranger to winning Indianapolis 500s. I had sort of let go of the thought of myself winning it. Now we have two.”

Newgarden, who said it is “just the best” to be driving for Roger Penske’s team, did not delve into the details of his contract as far as saying the deal was completed “just recently” and that his Indy 500 win “didn’t really have any bearing” on the decision. 

“I really think it’s a coincidence it’s happening right now,” he said. “A lot of this has been in motion for a while. We’ve worked so well together across all these groups. It’s great to continue.”

Given the homely feeling of Penske to Newgarden, plus the relationship with a number of partners, including the extended deal with Hitachi Astemo, it appears all parties efforted to strike an extension. Newgarden said he doesn’t believe there was any doubt about whether he would remain with Penske beyond 2024.

“Every partnership we have across the board has just been tremendous to be a part of, whether it’s Chevrolet or Hitachi or the many others that we have present with us today and throughout the year,” Newgarden said. “The timing was perfect. You never know when you're going to win the Indianapolis 500. 

“The fact that we did, we have this great extension with Hitachi Astemo, we’re here in GM’s [General Motors] backyard, literally in their house, Penske Corporation is up the road. [It] seemed like a good time to put this together. This has been coming for a little while now so not surprised.”

Penske have typically waited until the end of the season to announce driver renewals. But this trend has been bucked by a contract extension for Will Power being announced in March last year and Newgarden now in June.

“I think it’s a matter of planning,” Bud Denker, executive vice president of Penske, said. “These things don’t just happen overnight. I’ll tell you there was never any doubt between Josef and between ourselves that we would get this done. 

“I think the fact that coming off the Indy 500, coming off another win, then coming into Detroit, which is for us a very, very important race for our company and for Roger - his hometown as well - I think it made great sense to tie it all together. We got the Hitachi extension put together, we’re in our hometown, in the shadows of Chevrolet’s headquarters. 

“It was great timing. I think it made great sense.”

Looking ahead to the future, Newgarden did not rule out having the longevity to double his current tally of 30 race victories. Currently 33 years old, there is scope for Newgarden to race for another 15 years if he so desires.

“I don’t see why not,” he said on the prospect of 60 wins. “I’m not going to say that’s going to happen. It’s very difficult to know what’s going to take place. I don’t see why we can’t keep adding to the list - that’s why I show up every day, I work hard every year, why this team works hard. Always looking forward. 

“Roger Penske talks about: ‘We have to look through the front windshield.’ He’s right. We’re always trying to figure out how we can all be better at what we do.”

And while some drivers suggest they do not care about records, Newgarden is very much in the camp of chasing numbers as a source of motivation.

“I care about the numbers,” he said “I certainly care about it. I think Roger Penske cares about it tremendously. Whatever we’re doing, we care about the numbers. We want to succeed and only get better every year we show up. I feel the same way. 

“In an odd way I think we have a long way to go. I don’t say that arrogantly. I’m proud of what we’ve done but I’m more excited about what we can do.”

Newgarden feels it is not “farfetched” to say he could have four championship wins since joining Penske in 2017. He reigned supreme in his debut year with the team and again in 2019. But from 2020 to 2022, he had to suffer the anguish of three consecutive second-place championship finishes.

“A couple were very close,” he said. “I think for me what I look at, which is most gratifying, is the potential still has not been reached. There’s a higher ceiling here that we haven’t maxed out yet. That makes me excited for the future.”


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