Newgarden: “I want to get back to loving this” ahead of 2024 IndyCar season

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The reigning Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden is eagerly anticipating the upcoming IndyCar season and wants to return to truly enjoying racing.

The American scored his first win on the oval at Indianapolis last year but slumped to fifth in the championship.

Newgarden said to Pit Debrief and other media: “I want to get back to loving this. Not that I didn’t love it in the past, but I think when you get bogged down by too much, then sometimes the joy slips away.

“So I’m excited to get back to why I started doing this. Why did I start going racing? So get back to the track, working on race cars and understanding how we could be faster than everybody. That’s what I care about the most.”

The Team Penske driver was the class of the field on ovals in 2023 with all four of his wins coming on those types of circuits.

A mixed campaign for the 33-year-old was punctuated by a poor run of form away from the ovals, with just one second place at Road America.

Josef Newgarden in his suit and helmet

Photo Credit: Josef Newgarden

The two-time IndyCar champion admitted that his qualifying form and raw speed on road and street circuits need to improve.

“I don’t think it’ll come down to one or two ingredients. We know where we fell short, probably as a group. Personally, I was also layered into some of that.

“The weaknesses on the road and street courses. There are always things that you can do better. And certainly, qualifying is probably going to be the number one thing on my board that needs to improve. I think it goes deeper than just at the track.”

Newgarden is part of a very exclusive club; he is one of just four drivers on the current IndyCar grid to have clinched the title twice or more.

The driver of the number two car claimed Team Penske’s first Indy 500 win since 2019 last season, an event that has recently caused heartache amongst Penske’s ranks.

“When it comes to racing, for me, it’s still the bottom line numbers. What are the ultimate results? I care about that stuff. I think everybody that’s in here does.

“I don’t know how you can be in racing and not care about just finding success every weekend you’re at the track. That’s why I show up. I know it’s why our team shows up. You talk to Roger Penske.

“He’s more motivated than anybody to win the 20th Indy 500. That’s an unbelievable statement when you really think about it.”

The record books motivate drivers to keep performing at the highest level. Newgarden is no different and is fully focused on evolving and delivering more victories at the Indy 500.

“So I’m the same way. I’m so thankful we were able to win the Indy 500 last year, but I’m thinking about the next one. How do we get a second?

“And if we’re lucky to get a second one, how do we get a third? And if you get a third, how do we get a fourth?

“It’s a never-ending process of trying to stack success onto one another, and that’s what motivates me. The tough part about it, and I think the easy way to stay motivated, is it’s always changing.

“Just because we were successful one year or figured out a formula to win the 500 last year, that does not guarantee the same formula the next season.”

The 2024 IndyCar season starts on March 10th with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.