Josef Newgarden is glad he is leading the points going into next week’s final race of the NTT Indycar Series by a larger margin than he had before the 2016 finale, but he cautions that the points chase is “far from over with the double points situation.” In a teleconference this afternoon, Newgarden said he feels he controls his own destiny but that Weather Tech Raceway at Laguna Seca is “a wild card event with lots of unknowns.” Although his lead is bigger than it was two years, Newgarden feels the same pressure.
In contrast to Alexander Rossi, who yesterday said qualifying up front will be very crucial for a good result, Newgarden doesn’t know how important qualifying will be because no one knows how the track will race. He thinks the test day on the Thursday before the race will be telling. Most drivers have not raced at this track.
I asked Newgarden if having a teammate also going for the championship would cause him to change the way he approaches next weekend. he said, “It would be a mistake to change the way we approach it.” Newga5rden said he and Simon Pagenaud have tried to be fair with each other on the track.
Reflecting on his spin out at Mid-Ohio, Newgarden said, ” I can’t help myself sometimes. My nature is always to go for the higher position.”
While it would be nice for an American to win the title, it is not something Newgarden puts emphasis on. “I’ve always like the great mix of talent from around the world,” he said. He is happy to see young American drivers like Colton Herta enter the series.
The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey is Sunday, September 22 on NBC.