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IndyCar

Newgarden: Expectation to Perform With Penske “Doesn’t Change”

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AVONDALE, Ariz. — Getting a chance to race with Team Penske in any form of motorsport can be a career-altering opportunity, so it’s easy to think there are higher expectations as a driver for the robust and historical organization.

But Josef Newgarden doesn’t feel that way. His preparation and approach are the same with Penske as it was with his former team, Ed Carpenter Racing.

“At ECR, I felt like there was a lot of pressure to do well because any group that you’re with, everyone is working hard on the team and you want to perform for the people,” Newgarden said. “I don’t think that’s going to change much. The expectation to do well and put your best foot forward and show everything you can as a driver doesn’t change.”

Newgarden’s move to Penske during the IndyCar Silly Season hardly came as a surprise. After a pair of victories with CFH Racing in 2015 and a dominating win at Iowa Speedway with ECR in 2016, everyone could see his potential.

However, Newgarden didn’t actually like the process of switching teams. He understands it is part of the business, but it wasn’t enjoyable for him.

“Moving is not fun. I never want to do it again. I’m probably going to move again in my life, but I don’t want to do it,” the 26-year-old said. “I don’t know when that’s going to come up again — I hope it’s a long time from now.

“Being at Team Penske is pretty cool.”

With the way Penske dominated the 2016 season, Newgarden could easily be seen as an early title favorite. If his performance level is anything like Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud or Will Power’s was last year, he’ll unquestionably be in contention for the Astor Challenge Cup.

And if Friday’s test at Phoenix Raceway is any indication of where he’ll run this season, he’ll be in good shape. He put up the fastest lap time at the desert oval.

“This is an amazing group as these guys [Power and Pagenaud] can attest to, and I think we’re confident that we can come out of the gate really strong and challenge for victories,” Newgarden said.

“…When you walk into the factory at Team Penske, and you see all the heritage and all the success they’ve had there, there’s a different feeling from that aspect. The pressure to do well I don’t think is going to change.”

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John Haverlin

John Haverlin is currently studying Communication at Arizona State University. He has been a reporter at Phoenix International Raceway for three years and has written news stories for the track's official site. Born and raised in Long Island, N.Y., Haverlin has lived in Arizona the past three years.