IndyCar

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden promotes IndyCar weekend at Grimes Hy-Vee

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden promotes IndyCar weekend at Grimes Hy-Vee

Two-time reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Josef “Ovals” Newgarden stopped in Iowa on Monday to promote the IndyCar Doubleheader weekend at Iowa Speedway in Newton on July 13-14.

Newgarden finished second at Road America on Sunday, behind teammate Will Power. Newgarden has not seriously considered changing his middle name to “Ovals,” but it would suit him. He has won five of the seven IndyCar races at Iowa Speedway since 2019 and six of the 10 IndyCar races there since 2016. Since 2020 Newgarden has won 11 of the last 20 oval races in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Newgarden held an autograph session Monday for hundreds of fans at the Grimes Hy-Vee store to promote the Hy-Vee sponsored IndyCar weekend at Iowa. He won both races at Iowa last year.

“I’ve always liked this track. I like this style of racing,” said Newgarden, a Nashville resident. “Short-oval racing in IndyCar is very exhilarating. To me it’s like a high-speed corner on a road course over and over again.”

Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden crosses the finish line to win the Hy-Vee Homefront 250 at the Iowa Speedway on July 22, 2023.

Newgarden later stopped by the MidAmerican Rec Plex in West Des Moines to compete against drivers ages 10-18 in simulated races.

Newgarden won his second straight Indianapolis 500 on May 26 when he passed Pato O’Ward in turn three of the last lap. There have been four last-lap passes in Indianapolis 500 history. Newgarden has two of those. He is only the sixth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 back-to-back, and the first since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002.

“It’s very gratifying to get a win at that track. I had kind of given up on the thought of winning that race, or the reality of winning it,” Newgarden said. “Then it finally turned our way last year. To think that it’s going to happen again, it’s a thought that you let go of also. So I’m very thankful we’ve been able to win two of them.”

Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden celebrates with his crew members on May 26 after winning the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500.

For the third straight year, Hy-Vee will promote and sponsor the IndyCar doubleheader at Iowa Speedway in Newton. Races are scheduled for 7 p.m. on July 13 and 11 a.m. on July 14.

All four turns at Iowa Speedway were partially repaved in May. Two lanes of the entrances and exits of turns two and four were repaved, leaving only a small section of the original track near the wall in each turn. The front stretch and back stretch have not been repaved.

The repaves left only a racing groove on the inside lane. Thankfully they repaved two lanes of the track, Newgarden said.

“The risk of repaves is that you lose a second lane,” Newgarden said. “I hope that doesn’t happen on our weekend where the bottom lane becomes the dominant layer. What made Iowa so fun is that you could run two solid lanes and sometimes even a third lane.”

But the new pavement starts about halfway into the corner, Newgarden said.

“So you’re going to be entering at low grip and then have high grip in the middle. So I think it’s also going to be challenging from that standpoint.”

Much of the IndyCar season has been overshadowed by the fallout from a decision that stripped Newgarden of his season-opening win at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix in Florida. During that race Newgarden and teammates Power and Scott McLaughlin had cars that contained an illegal line of code in the car’s software that gave them access to push-to-pass — a 50-horsepower boost that can be used to pass opponents during certain situations on road and street courses — at any time. Newgarden and McLaughlin “gained a competitive advantage by using push-to-pass on restarts,” in violation of the rules, IndyCar said in an April news release when penalties were announced.

Team Penske and Newgarden blamed the error on testing last year for the series’ hybrid system. Some fans and members of the paddock still have questions about the situation, but the sport has largely moved on after Newgarden won his second Indianapolis 500.

Newgarden crashed during qualifying for Saturday’s race at Road America in Wisconsin. The crash had the force of 95 gravitational equivalents, and Newgarden was subjected to 80 gravitational equivalents, according to NBC Sports.

“I’m OK. I’m OK surprisingly. It was a pretty big hit, but I’m good,” Newgarden said.

This weekend Iowa Speedway will host its first NASCAR Cup Series race, about two-years after Hy-Vee partnered with IndyCar to re-open the mostly dormant track. Hy-Vee will sponsor Saturday Xfinity Series race, one level below the top-level Cup Series, which races Sunday in Newton.

Iowa is an important track for IndyCar, which has few ovals on its schedule. NBC’s Kevin Lee warned in October on his Indianapolis radio show “Trackside” that when NASCAR moves a Cup Series date to an existing IndyCar track it often foreshadows bad things for the IndyCar race.

“Generally speaking when NASCAR has come in for a first race or a second race, it has not gone well for IndyCar, and in many cases it has spelled doom,” Lee said on his show. “There is a limited amount of budget that people have to come to the racetrack twice within a month.”

But when Hy-Vee revived the track in 2022, the goal was always to bring a Cup Series date there, Hy-Vee executive vice president Anna Stoermer said last month.

Hy-Vee expects IndyCar partnership during Indy 500 to fuel growth

“That’s been one of the cooler things about our IndyCar sponsorship, is that it’s opened the door for the Iowa Speedway to get a huge event there,” Stoermer said at the time.

Like Stoermer, Newgarden said he is encouraged by the ticket sales and attendance projections he’s seen so far for the IndyCar weekend. Several times during a 17-minute conversation Monday, Newgarden said that Hy-Vee elevated the IndyCar weekend and racing in general in Iowa.

“We’ve got a lot of great destinations in Iowa. I think Iowa firmly has its position. Knoxville is a great stake in the ground, but Iowa Speedway is too,” Newgarden said. “What Hy-Vee has done to bolster the sport, mostly IndyCar, but that includes NASCAR, I think is really positive. We like coming here. I like Des Moines a lot. Newton isn’t too far away. So it rallies everyone around it. So I think Iowa firmly has its place in motorsports.”

Philip Joens covers retail and real estate for the Des Moines Register. He can be reached at 515-284-8184, pjoens@registermedia.com or on Twitter @Philip_Joens.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Hy-Vee hosts Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden, promotes IndyCar weekend

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