Newgarden set to tame Nashville streets

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Josef Newgarden kept his pingpong paddle close by in a case while the home town chauffeur provided his most current advertising pitch on why IndyCar will be a blockbuster in the Music City.

The two-time IndyCar champ prepped for a last night of enjoyable in his fundraiser prior to he moved his focus to racing.

“I’ve tried to front-load all my work, get it out of the way, up until (Friday) which I think is the smart thing to do,” he stated.

And after that, play time called.

“Teammate! Teammate! Let’s go!”

Newgarden’s spiel was separated and he bounded away when fellow Group Penske chauffeur and pingpong partner Ryan Blaney appeared and provided him a huge brother hug. Newgarden and Joey Logano high-fived and Austin Cindric slapped hands and got a pat on the back.

Newgarden was the clear winner for many popular chauffeur in Nashville, a fitting title for the Tennessee local who’s concentrated on a 3rd champion at the exact same time he’s playing host to celebrities, race fans and the casual Broadway gawkers who would like to know what’s up this weekend with the open wheel automobiles zipping over a bridge suspended 80 feet above the Cumberland River.

“It’s going to be very embarrassing if I don’t win,” Newgarden stated.

Newgarden stated the remark was suggested to be tongue-in-cheek. Sort of.

“I think there’s obviously pressure that everyone wants me to succeed here and is expecting me to succeed here,” he stated. “So I think it would only be more special if I was able to win.”

Newgarden won IndyCar’s last race in July at Mid-Ohio prior to the series took a 34-day break and sits 4th in the points standings headed into Sunday’s Grand Prix. Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward are 1-2 and Scott Dixon is 3rd. Newgarden is 69 points behind Palou with 6 races left in 2021.

“I think we absolutely have the performance to win the championship,” Newgarden stated. “We don’t have a lot of room for error.”

The 30-year-old Newgarden currently took house one prize today when he raised almost $140,00 and won his own charity pingpong competition. His table tennis interest has deep roots in his household — he got his very first racket when he had to do with 3 years of ages and his late grandpa, Joe Newgarden, remains in the U.S.A. Table Tennis Hall of Popularity. Joe Newgarden likewise developed the Robo-Pong table tennis robotic.

“Secretly, I hold this event because I know I’m better than everyone at pingpong,” Newgarden stated. “I just want to psychologically demoralize my competition before the weekend.

Maybe he’ll pack his paddle for Paris.

Much like a pingpong ball, Newgarden bounced from one spot to the next this month, hustling to promote IndyCar’s inaugural street race in Nashville. Newgarden was raised about 25 miles north of Nashville in Hendersonville and now lives with his wife closer to the city. The championships raised his profile in the area and while he’s not quite as famous as, say, country stars Miranda Lambert or Dierks Bentley (who have their names plastered on downtown bars), Newgarden has lost the anonymity he had before he won 19 races and was hired by Roger Penske.

“I used to not get stopped outside of a racetrack or race weekend,” he stated. “Now I see people in restaurants that will say hi or stop me. I’ve seen people wearing Team Penske shirts in a grocery store, and they’re like, ‘Hey, oh my gosh, I didn’t know you lived here.’”

It was difficult to miss him today.

However when NBC required a star chauffeur to promote the race broadcast, it relied on race legend Mario Andretti to schmooze with vocalist Sheryl Crow, not the personalized, photogenic home town champ. For a series that requires all the aid it can get in the scores race, it might have turned the page on the past and put the spotlight on Newgarden or a handful of other IndyCar stars.

“Yeah, next year, I’d love to be in that commercial supporting my city,” Newgarden stated.

Four-time Indianapolis 500 champ Helio Castroneves invested one complete season as Newgarden’s colleague at Group Penske in 2017 and viewed him bloom into among the very best in sport.

“He’s a complete driver. He’s able to do more pole positions, able to win races. Last year, they almost won,” Castroneves stated. “When you create that kind of scenario for yourself, you feel strong, you feel powerful, you start leading the team. It’s big shoes to fill but he’s doing an incredible job.”

Newgarden was runner-up to Dixon for the 2020 champion and got rid of some destructive losses this year (he’s completed second 3 times) to lead all however 7 of the 80 laps in his Mid-Ohio triumph.

His 19 profession wins are an IndyCar record for an American chauffeur.

Needs to he strike 20 on Sunday, watch out later on that night someplace in between Acme Feed & Seed and Printer’s Street for the pingpong-playing IndyCar star trying to find a location to sing.

“Love karaoke,” he stated. “I’ll go with Will Power all night long.”

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.