Josef NicolaiNewgarden is a freshly crowned IndyCar Series champion for 2017. An American racing driver, born on December 22, 1990, in Nashville, Tennessee, stopped a domination of non-American drivers who won IndyCar titles from 2013 to 2016 and took his championship title in his sixth IndyCar season.
He debuted in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Racing, then competed for CHF Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing, switching to Team Penske in 2017. He scored seven wins in six seasons. Before entering IndyCar Series, Newgarden was the 2011 Indy Lights champion.
Just like many of his colleagues, Newgarden began his career driving go-karts. He started relatively late, at the age of 13, but his progress was fast and in 2006 Josef already won the titles in two categories of the Kart Racers of America. He won the title in Yamaha Junior Championship and also became a champion of the Junior TAG World Championship.
Newgarden started his career in karting
The same year he switched to single-seaters. He was a student of Skip Barber Racing School and immediately became one of the best. In the Souther Regional Series, Josef finished the season as a runner-up with three race wins and a total of 10 podiums. In 2007, he moved to FGoodrich / Skip Barber National championship and again did fine. Newgarden scored two wins before finishing 6th in the final standings. He stayed in the series for another year and moved up to the 2nd place in the championship after having three wins in his books.
Move to Europe
Encouraged by the good results at home soil and a win in the Kent class of Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, Newgarden in 2009 moved to Europe to try his luck in the more competitive series. Newgarden drove in the British Formula Ford championship and finished the season as a vice-champion, behind James Cole. Josef won 9 out of 25 races and other 7 podiums what was enough to catch the eyes of the bigger teams from other series.
Newgarden, Carlin, 2010 GP3 Series
In 2010, Newgarden signed with Carlin team to drive in the GP3 Series what was a good opportunity for further progress. However, the results weren’t impressive. He collected only 8 points and one fastest lap before finishing 18th overall.
Newgarden returned home and won Indy Lights title
After a relatively successful spell in Europe, the Nashville-born driver returned home. He signed with Sam Schmidt Motorsports to compete in the Indy Lights Series. The debut was like dream come true after winning the season-opening race at the streets St. Petersburg.
Celebrating 2011 Indy Lights series championship title
Over the season Newgarden confirmed his talent by scoring four more wins and other five podiums. The Nashville-born driver won the 2011 Indy Lights title with an advantage of almost 100 points to the 2nd placed Esteban Guerrieri. That success enabled him to move up to the IndyCar Series from 2012.
IndyCar Series debut in 2012
Newgarden signed with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing in 2012 and spent three seasons with the team. His rookie season wasn’t glorious as he failed to score a single finish in Top 10. However, that year Josef was the recipient of Tony Renna Rising Star Award.
The following season was much better. Newgarden scored his maiden Top 10 finish at Alabama, while in Sao Paulo he scored Top 5 finish for the first time in his IndyCar career. That wasn’t the last success which he had in 2013. Newgarden scored his maiden podium after taking the 2nd place in the Grand Prix of Baltimore, behind Simon Pagenaud. At the end of the year, Newgarden was 14th in the standings.
Newgarden, IndyCar Series, 2013 Grand Prix of Baltimore
His final year with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing was pretty similar to 2013. Newgarden scored 7 Top 10 finishes, including the 2nd place at Iowa Speedway where he narrowly lost to Ryan Hunter-Reay. Josef moved step forward in the final standings and ended the season at the 13th position.
Maiden IndyCar victory at Barber Motorsports Park
In 2015, Newgarden became a driver of CFH Racing, a team that was created by merging of Ed Carpenter’s and Sarah Fisher’s teams. That season was a big step forward in Josef’s career after he scored his main victory at Barber Motorsports Park. That was followed by another victory in Toronto and the 2nd places at Iowa and Pocono.
Newgarden celebrates his maiden IndyCar win at Barber Motorsports Park, 2015
He moved up to the 7th position in the Drivers standings and announced that he is capable of achieving even more in the following years.
Fourth place in the 2016 season despite huge crash
Newgarden’s progress to the top of IndyCar continued in 2016. After Sarah Fisher ended her involvement in the series, Josef drove for reformed Ed Carpenter Racing. It was another remarkable year season after he (finally) won the race at Iowa, finished 2nd at Watkins Glen, and 3rd at Barber Motorsports Park and Indianapolis 500.
Another moment which marked that year was a huge crash at Texas Motor Speedway. Josef hit the wall after contact with Conor Daly's car and broke his hand and clavicle. Surprisingly, he was able to return to the cockpit after just two weeks for the race at Road America.
He was lucky to survive massice crash at Texas Motor Speedway in 2016
For the 2017 IndyCar season, Newgarden signed for Team Penske to drive the #2 Chevrolet. He scored his first win with the team in the third round at Barber Motorsports Park. Two consecutive wins followed in July at Toronto and Mid-Ohio. Fourth season's win came at the Gateway Motorsports Park.
Newgarden entered the season's finale at Sonoma Raceway as the championship leader, just three points ahead of Scott Dixon. He finished the last race in the second place, taking a title with 13-point advantage over his teammate Simon Pagenaud.