MOORESVILLE, N.C. — What had been rumored for weeks in the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock was finally officially confirmed on Wednesday morning: Josef Newgarden is teaming with the Captain.
Team Penske unveiled Newgarden as the new pilot of the No. 2 entry for 2017, just six days after the announcement that the likable Tennessee native would not return to Ed Carpenter Racing.
The signing of Newgarden comes on the heels of a successful season for Team Penske, which included a series championship with driver Simon Pagenaud – the team’s 14th IndyCar Series title – and a sweep of the top three spots in the point standings.
“When you look at the top talent in the series, both from a driving and commercial perspective, Josef is near the top of the list,” said team owner Roger Penske. “We are always looking to build toward the future and when we had the opportunity to talk with Josef, we knew that he would be a great fit with our program. He is a fantastic driver on the track and will be great with our partners off the track. He is hungry to win more races and win championships and we hope to give him that opportunity as part of our team.”
Newgarden finished the season with one win, four podiums and 11 top-10 finishes driving for ECR. He placed fourth in the championship point standings after finishing sixth in the season-finale at Sonoma Raceway last month.
His lone win in 2016 came at Iowa Speedway, where he dominated the field, leading 282 of 300 laps.
Over the course of his five-year IndyCar Series career, the 25-year-old has three wins (at Iowa, Barber and Toronto) and 10 podium finishes, leading a total of 679 laps.
He began his career in karting, eventually moving to Skip Barber and various other road racing series in Europe before returning to North America to compete in the Indy Lights division in 2011, where he won in his series debut.
He earned five wins en route to winning the Indy Lights title that season before moving to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012 with Sarah Fisher-Hartman Racing.
“For any open-wheel racer – or any racecar driver in general – Team Penske is a dream job,” said Newgarden. “Roger Penske is a legend in the motorsports community and his team has done just about everything they’ve ever set out to do. I look forward to working with all of Team Penske’s great partners. To get an opportunity to work with Simon (Pagenaud), Will (Power) and Helio (Castroneves), along with the rest of the team, will just help make me a better driver.
Newgarden’s tenure with Team Penske, as well as the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, will kick off on March 12 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
CREDIT: Team Penske