Reigning Verizon IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden admits that he and his Penske team need to up their game in the closing races of the 2018 season.
Sitting 66-points off championship leader Scott Dixon, Newgarden is under no illusions about what is needed for the championship run-in: “We’ve stayed in the same spot in championship points, but we’ve got to do better.”
Newgarden focused on advancing in the standings
Newgarden sits third in the point standings behind long-time championship leader Dixon and Alexander Rossi. Rossi’s back-to-back wins at Mid-Ohio and Pocono have marked the Andretti driver out as the primary challenger to Dixon.
Newgarden, however, remains undaunted and is focused on closing the gap to both drivers: “The team is working really hard to give me the best car possible, so we’re really ready for a good run there to get as many points as we can and try and advance in the standings.”
This weekend’s Bommarito 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline provides the ideal springboard for a late-season charge. Newgarden took a hard-fought win at Gateway last season following one of the overtakes of the season on teammate, and then reigning champion, Simon Pagenaud. Victory at Gateway set in motion the 27-year-olds charge to a maiden IndyCar title.
Gateway: a great place for a race
Looking ahead to IndyCar’s return to Gateway, Newgarden said: “Gateway is a race I’m really focused on and a place I’d love to get another win at. It was a great battle between my teammate Simon Pagenaud and myself last year. Definitely an exciting race for the fans and a fun one for us racers.”
The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta & Valvoline takes the green flag for practice and qualifying on Friday, August 24 at 12.15pm and 4.15pm respectively.
The race will start 7.40pm Saturday, August 25 for a total of 248 laps of the 1.25-mile oval.