Photo Credit: UPI
The first domino of the 2016-2017 Verizon IndyCar Series offseason has fallen. The highly coveted 25-year-old American sensation Josef Newgarden is set to drive for Team Penske in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season following his first 5 seasons in the series spent driving for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, CFH Racing, and Ed Carpenter Racing.
Newgarden has won a total of 3 races in his young IndyCar career, all of which since the beginning of the 2015 season. He has recorded victories at Barber Motorsports Park and the streets of Toronto in 2015, as well as Iowa Speedway in 2016.
He finished in a career-high 4th place in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings despite not being able to compete in the continuation of the Firestone 600 in August due to being involved in a terrible crash during the race on the weekend when it was initially scheduled in June.
Newgarden has improved upon his place in the IndyCar championship standings in each of his seasons of competition, moving from 23rd place in 2012 to 14th place in 2013 to 13th place in 2014 to 7th place in 2015 and now to 4th place in 2016.
He was also the 2011 Indy Lights Series champion after winning 5 out of the 14 races in the series during that season.
Newgarden has raced in the Indianapolis 500 a total of 5 times, with his highest qualifying performance and highest finishing position being 2nd place and 3rd place, respectively. Both of those career highs for Newgarden took place this past May during the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
This move to Team Penske for Newgarden most likely makes Juan Pablo Montoya the odd man out for Roger Penske’s team. Montoya has driven for Team Penske since the 2014 season and won the Indianapolis 500 in 2015. He finished in 4th, 2nd, and 9th place in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings in 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively. It looks more and more likely that Montoya will go to Ed Carpenter Racing to replace Newgarden just as Newgarden is most likely going to be replacing Montoya.
Team Penske will most likely retain its other 3 drivers: Simon Pagenaud, the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, Will Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, and Helio Castroneves, a 3-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.
Josef Newgarden will be the first American driving for Team Penske since Sam Hornish Jr. drove for the team from the 2004 season through the 2007 season and won the 2006 Indianapolis 500.