Josef Newgarden Wins the IndyCar Championship for Chevrolet

Josef Newgarden’s first IndyCar championship was Team Penske’s third in four seasons and Chevrolet’s fourth in a row. 

Newgarden followed teammate and championship rival Simon Pagenaud home, finishing second in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to wrap up the championship ahead of another teammate in Will Power and Scott Dixon in fourth.

Pagenaud, who needed to win with Newgarden outside the top three, ran a four-stop strategy looking for late race pace compared to Newgarden’s conventional three stopper. It was the Frenchman’s 11th career victory and second consecutive on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course.

Despite crashing out at Watkins Glen earlier this month, Newgarden took the championship with 13 points to spare over Pagenaud, a further 21 clear of third-place Scott Dixon; for the 12th straight season, the Verizon IndyCar Series driver’s championship was decided in the final race.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Newgarden, who’s championship comes on the day he made his 100th career start,

“It was all year and it took a lot to make it happen. Thank you to my teammates. They were giving me a lot of help to make sure we got this done. It’s a huge team effort at Team Penske.

“To finally get it done is a dream come true.”

Newgarden’s championship is the 15th all-time for Team Penske, the most of any team in IndyCar history.

“I’ve had so many great drivers, and as I said, I don’t have a favorite,” team owner Roger Penske said. “I can’t compare (Newgarden) to anyone exactly. He’s an American, which is special in this sport because many of the other drivers have come from overseas and different parts of the world. To see Josef kind of take this route and be at the top right now is pretty exciting.”

Pagenaud completed all 2,331 laps this season, becoming just the second driver to finish every lap in an Indy car season. “We did what we had to do,” Pagenaud said. “We tried. We won the race; it wasn’t enough. It’s a whole championship.

“You’ve got to be strong in every race and I guess Josef was a little stronger this year, so we’ll come back. Thirteen points. Next year we’ll come back and give him a hell of a competition again.”

2017 marks the end of the manufacturer “aero wars,” with the series moving to a sleeker, spec aero design for the 2018 season and beyond.

Comments