After taking command of the NTT IndyCar Series championship points for 16 of 17, Team Penske president Tim Cindric marveled as he has watched Josef Newgarden reward Roger Penske’s faith by earning two titles in three years.
“Anytime you can basically lead this series from start to finish, and I don’t know how many times that’s been done, but in recent history, that’s a tough thing to do,” he told RACER. “You’ve got to win the first one, then you have to win the rest of them, and the double points game and all the rest of it, and he never let go of it.”
As Newgarden’s race strategist, Cindric kept his driver locked in during Sunday’s season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on the bigger goal at hand, as faster drivers were allowed to pass without taking risks. Compared to the 2017 title they won with the No. 2 Chevy, an older and more mature Newgarden made it easier to achieve their ultimate goal.
“I know how difficult it was for him to stay cool the first half of the race because we’re pulling him back rather than pushing him forward,” Cindric said. “That’s a plus and a minus in some ways. But I think that’s probably the difference. I was asked earlier, ‘What’s the difference between this year and the previous championship?’ And you think back to it, and I think back then he might have reacted to all that differently, and said, ‘To hell with that. I’m going to go take my chances.’
“Fortunately, he didn’t then, and now you can see that fine balance of patience and aggression [in him]. That’s what you want.”
Cindric beamed with pride as Newgarden was celebrated by his pit crew and engineers on Sunday. Looking at all they accomplished together in 2019, there’s every reason to believe the 28-year-old Newgarden will add more championships in the coming years.
“Well, I think he’s shown that potential from day one,” Cindric added. “Now we need to get him an Indy 500 win.”