Chevy Racing–INDYCAR–Long Beach Post Race

APRIL 9, 2017

Josef Newgarden Puts Chevrolet on Podium at Long Beach
LONG BEACH, Calif – (April 9, 2017) – Josef Newgarden, in just his second race as a member of Team Penske, finished third in today’s Grand Prix of Long Beach. It is the first podium of the season for the driver of the No. 2 hum by Verizon Chevrolet.

“It is good to get this podium in the books for the Captain,” said Newgarden. “It is a really big deal to me. Now hopefully we can hunt down some wins. Really proud of our guys. We had great stops. I hope it was exciting for the fans. There was certainly a lot going on in the car from my side of things.”

Newgarden started eighth and spent the majority of the 85-lap/167.28-mile race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit battling in the top-five.

Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud came from last on the grid to finish fifth in No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.

“We had a flat tire early in the race,” said Pagenaud. “So when that happens, I’m thinking what else is going to happen this weekend. We had a great car with a lot of outside factors that played against us. But you have to dig, think forward and think positive, and that’s what we did. It was a fun day.”

Carlos Munoz brought the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet to seventh in the final finishing order. Spencer Pigot, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet finished eighth.

Pole sitter Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet, finished ninth after a pit road violation late in the race cost the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner valuable track position.

The remaining Team Chevy drivers finished as follows:
JF Hildebrand, No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet – 11th
Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Finished 13th
Conor Daly, No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet – 14th
Hildebrand suffered a broken bone in his left hand during an incident on the last lap of the race. Hildebrand was entering the first turn on Lap 85 when his car made contact with the No. 7 driven by Mikhail Aleshin. According to INDYCAR medical director Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Hildebrand will be re-evaluated upon his return to Indianapolis this week and has not been cleared to return to Verizon IndyCar Series competition.
Next on the schedule is the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama set for Sunday, April 23, 2017.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 HUM BY VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD: “We ended up finishing third which is a good result for us and the No. 2 hum Chevy team and I’m pretty happy about that. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t get a Penske car in victory lane but at least we got a podium under our belts so we’re really happy about that for the two car. I feel like we had amazing speed all day and we had the fuel mileage. Team Chevy did a great job for us. We had fast pit stops and the guys took care of the car great. So we were right there. We finished a strong third this weekend and that’s something we can go to Barber and hopefully get that first win so we’re excited to go on to the next one.”

THIS WAS YOUR BEST FINISH AT LONG BEACH AND YOUR FIRST PODIUM FOR THE CAPTAIN (ROGER PENSKE). HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT? “It’s exciting. It’s the second race of the year so it’s always good to get the first podium out of the way for The Captain. It was a pleasure to drive this weekend. Verizon gives us great tools at Team Penske. It’s nice to get this one out of the way. Hopefully now we can hunt down some wins. I’m proud of our guys. We had good stops and we had a fast car – certainly one to challenge for the win if everything fell perfectly. But it wasn’t meant to be with the way the yellows shook out. Congrats to Hinch. He did an awesome job today. I’m happy for those guys. We’ll go to the next one and try to get a win.”

IT LOOKED LIKE SOMETHING WENT WRONG ON THE LAST RESTART. WHAT HAPPENED? “I was just trying to get him. I probably had too much wheel spin probably here to start going. I was trying to keep the rears under me to start but I couldn’t get it right there. Where we were strong was when we had to save fuel to go fast. That’s when we could hunt down (Scott) Dixon and had something for him to challenge him before the last pit stop. The strategy we had didn’t really play out how we wanted to. But it’s still a great day. I’m happy with third and super pumped for Team Chevy. Hopefully we can go to Barber and get them the win.”
SIMON PAGENAUD, NO. 1 PPG AUTOMOTIVE FINISHES TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 5TH: “It was exciting. At the beginning we were able to pass a lot of cars. The Menards Chevrolet was phenomenal all weekend. I was really excited before the race because I knew we had such a strong weapon. It was all about having the right strategy to make it work. We actually switched strategies because it was going so well at the beginning. The flat tire set us back a little, but it was a good championship day. I’m so proud of the team. Everyone worked really hard to come out of here with a good result.”
GOING 21st TO FIFTH WITH A FLAT TIRE… WAS THAT A GOOD DAY? “It was exciting. At the beginning we were able to pass a lot of cars. The Menards car was phenomenal all weekend. I was really excited before the race because i knew we had such a strong weapon. It was all about having the right strategy to make it work. We actually switched strategies because it was going so well at the beginning. It worked out well for us. In the end I tried to get by (Scott) Dixon there but everyone was pretty fast.”

IT TURNS OUT YOU THERE WAS A GOOD REASON TO PIT EARLY. “Yes we had a flat tire. So when that happens, I’m thinking what else is going to happen this weekend. We had a great car with a lot of outside factors that played against us. But you have to dig, think forward and think positive, and that’s what we did. It was a fun day.”

DAYS LIKE THIS ARE HOW YOU DEFEND YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP WHEN YOU PULL OUT A DAY LIKE THIS. “(Gil) de Ferran told me one day that when you can make a bad day look like a good one, then you’re in good shape for the championship. I also want to congratulate James Hinchcliffe and my old team at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. It’s really good for them.”

CARLOS MUNOZ, NO. 14 ABC SUPPLY AJ FOYT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH: “Finally got some good points for Foyt — finishing 7th after a hard weekend. We think that’s the best position we could have had. We improved the ABC Supply Chevrolet a lot but it’s still not there. Still need to improve but I’m really happy with my crew and my engineers. The guys did an awesome job in the pits—it was their first race doing pit stops together and they did a really good job. Hopefully we keep it up all year long.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 9TH: “It just wasn’t our day. The Auto Club of Southern California was really fast but we had a few other problems that kind of ruined the day. I think we had some electronic problems that caused us to mess up the start of the race and the pit road speeding penalties. We’ll regroup and head to Barber. One of these days all of this bad luck will even out. It can’t come soon enough.”

SPENCER PIGOT, NO. 20 FUZZY’S VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET,: FINISHED 8TH: “Overall. we have to pleased with the result, to be eighth after where we stated. It was a bit of a shame to miss out on sixth, I though we were there pretty comfortably. We just had a small issue coming out of the hairpin that allowed (Ed) Jones and (Carlos) Munoz to get by. It was a good day. The guys did great with the pit stops as always. I have to thank them for all of their hard work. I wouldn’t have been able to finish that high without them. I am glad we were able to get a good result for Loki The Wolfdog.”

JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 21 PREFERRED FREEZER SERVICE ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH: JR Hildebrand suffered an injury to his hand in a last-lap incident with another car. Hildebrand is going back to Indianapolis for further evaluation: “At the end of the race, we all were bunched back up because of that last yellow. I was on reds and had a little bit for at least the handful of cars in front of us. On the last lap, I was making a move on Mikhail Aleshin and I could tell he was struggling. I was out of push-to-pass so I was trying to make a proper, full-out pass down he front straightaway. He had been starting to move over, not a major blocking maneuver but enough to assert his line. He hit the brake a lot earlier than I was expecting and I ended up running into the back of him. In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking it. At the end of the day, to come home with an 11th place finish isn’t terrible. It is a bummer though as we were certainly on our way to finishing in the Top 10 and now we are in a bit of a jam going forward. Hopefully I can get back to it here before the next race.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 13TH: “It was a tough day for the No. 12 Verizon Chevy. We were caught up in an incident early in the race and I feel like it really ruined my day. It was an awful situation to be put in since we had nowhere to go when we made contact with the wall. Still, we battled. I’m really proud of my guys for working as hard as they did to try and come back from the incident but we couldn’t. We’re ready to head to Barber and get another chance to perform well.”
CONOR DALY, NO. 4 ABC SUPPLY AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 16TH: “I have no idea what happened at the start–just massive power delivery and I just lost it. It was probably my fault but it was really unexpected. We’d been ok out of there all weekend long. The rest of the day struggled when the car was on overtake—a lot of vibrations so we couldn’t use it. It left us a little helpless. The ABC car was actually okay–pretty decent handling so maybe we could have fought for that top 10. Once we fell behind it was hard to make up. We’re still finishing races and still learning.”

THE MODERATOR: We’ll go ahead and begin our post-race press conference for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Joined now by our third-place finisher, Josef Newgarden, driving the No. 2 Hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Josef finished third in today’s race, his best Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in six starts.

It was unpredictable today. Take us through your day.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think it got a lot more mixed up with the strategy today. Dixon and me were on something different than the front guys, Hunter-Reay, Hinch, Rossi. I thought that added a dynamic that was more fun than last year. Everyone was on the same strategy last year, which let the race play out to not much action, unfortunately.

This year was a lot more mixed up. I did way more passing than I’ve done in the past couple years. I thought it was an exciting race.

For us on Team Penske, it was a good day. The Verizon Hum car, we had a strong car underneath us all day. I felt about it good in warmup. We had a car that was capable of challenging for the win if everything fell correctly.

Our strategy didn’t play out with that last yellow. It just allowed everyone to catch up on fuel a little bit. We were on the same strategy at the end fuel-wise.

Our strategy of trying to run those guys down at the end and be fast wasn’t really able to play out, which is unfortunate, but that’s how racing goes. You have to choose one strategy and hope it plays out for you. Today it got us close. Third place is something we can roll with, try to get a win.

THE MODERATOR: A top-10 finish in St. Petersburg, followed by a podium finish here. How great has it been to start your first season with a new team?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It’s always good. In INDYCAR, you have to be on it all the time. You have to have consistency to be a challenger for the championship, you have to have momentum to keep the spirits up and everything rolling in the right direction.

For me to start the year off with the No. 2 guys with the Verizon Hum car, it’s nice to have some consistency to start with. A top 10 was good at St. Pete. A podium down here is another strong step for us. I think the next thing you need to do is try to hunt down a win. Hopefully we can do that sooner than later. I feel like we’re going to have some good speed at the next couple tracks we go to.

Have to keep our heads down, keep consistent. That’s going to be the key for us this year, as it always is in this series.

Q. By nature all racing is a pretty selfish sport. You’re out there, you believe you’re the best, you want to beat the best. As a competitor, how do you feel when you look back and see what James was able to do today, come all the way back from where he was?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, I mean, I think it speaks for itself. I mean, we can attest to it, but everyone knows James’ story from Indianapolis. It’s an amazing story. Nothing less than amazing.

So I think for him, it’s a huge credit to what type of racer he is. I mean, I think he’s a diehard racer through and through. No one can really question that ever, I think with James. He always is going to be known for that, after everything that he went through at Indianapolis.

Same thing for his team. I think he’s got an amazing group behind him. I know part of those guys for having worked with them in 2011. They’re just an amazing team he works with.

It’s an awesome story. Congrats to him, like Sebastien said. We’re happy for him and his team. Like I said, I think it speaks to the racer that he is. James has a lot of show about him. He’s a fun, entertaining guy, great to be around. But, you know, at the end of everything, he’s here because he loves driving racecars. He’s proved that time and time again. He doesn’t really ever have to prove that again.
Q. Josef, I think you hit 107 during the race. Maybe the fastest lap.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Where we were strong was saving fuel and going fast. I think — I don’t know. I have to look back. It felt like we were the quickest car with saving fuel and still going quick. We lost a lot of pace to Dixon through some traffic sequencing. We just closed right back up on him while saving a ton of fuel.

I thought we had a really quick car. It got a little difficult at the end when we got bunched back up. It was tough for me to get by Seb and to get up to James. I think we struggled when everyone was even.

When we had clean air, we could just work on our own thing, we had a very fast racecar, it was super quick. I have no complaints about that. The speed is just down to the speed of the car. It was where I needed it to be. Having come from that, not a great feel on Friday, I wasn’t super happy with things on Friday, to having a great car in the race, that’s all you can really do is try to work on the thing all weekend, get it to where you need it to be. I think we had it there in the race.

Q. On the final restart, it looked like you were hanging back just a bit. Looks like maybe not quite as close as you could have been. Did that hurt? Do you think you could have caught Hinch?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, from my vantage point, it looked like two things. Bourdais tries to finish where he was. I was trying to do that to some degree, I wanted to get him. When you’re at that point in the race, you don’t want to do something stupid.

Trying to get that one last position on two laps to go, doing something stupid to take you to the back, you know, it’s not worth the risk sometimes.

But then on top of that, you had Hinch just go as soon as he could. There was no get on the straight, set up, then restart. Which I don’t blame him. If I’m in the lead, two laps to go, he restarting, just go as soon as you can. You know, there’s nothing dirty about what he did today.

I would have done the same thing as James. I think you saw both things, everybody was trying to keep where they were at. I was pushing hard to try to get Seb, but being smart about it. I think James was trying to get as early a launch as he could to protect, and that’s probably what you saw.

Q. Josef, did you hear from Tim or Roger after the race? What are their thoughts on your progression in fitting in with Team Penske?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, I hope they’re happy enough so far. I’d like to stay. Not ready to get fired yet, so…

You know, you never know in INDYCAR, right? You know, I never want to sign multi-year contracts because I feel like you’re never safe in this sport. You get fired at any point.

No, the great thing about Roger and Tim is they’ve been letting me just kind of settle into the situation and absorb everything, try to figure out how their operation works, let me kind of figure out how I need to interact with the teammates, with the engineers.

I felt it would go really quick. It actually is. I feel good about gelling with the team pretty smoothly. There are things that are different. This is the most eye-opening weekend for me starting out on Friday because I wasn’t super happy. I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t 100% comfortable with everything with the car, the way that it worked. That’s OK. It’s just different from what I’ve experienced in the past.

There’s going to be some weekends this year where I’m uncomfortable. I have to figure out how to work it out for myself. As soon as we get to that period, we’ll be much stronger on the 2 car.

It feels great. Roger and Tim, they’re two of the classiest guys I’ve ever met. They’re so good to you. When they tell you something, they mean it. Their word is as good as gold. I trust those guys a lot. I think they’ve given me a lot of leeway just to figure things out. Two races in, I’m pretty happy with what we’ve done. We just got to keep trying to move the ball a little bit forward. If we do that, we should be situated fine at the end of the year.

(Laughs)It’s in my contract, speak well about Roger and Tim at all times.

They’re great. They really are nice to me.
Q. Can you talk about the first two races haven’t gone to the usual suspects, how competitive it is, what it means for the series that you and Hinchcliffe have won so far.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, I don’t know, I mean, it seems like typical INDYCAR to me. Maybe not as bad as you — I don’t know that it’s bad. I think you could say that Bourdais didn’t qualify in St. Pete, so you didn’t know his qualifying pace there. He started at the back. We all know we’re all capable of winning from last place. They did a great job. Who is to say they wouldn’t qualify right in the top three there.

I don’t know if that’s a surprise result. It certainly looked that way looking at the weekend. Who is to know.

Then here, I think James looked good all weekend. The Hondas looked strong. We felt good on the Team Chevy side, but the Hondas were tough to beat. I think James was good all weekend. It’s not a surprise they were in a position to capitalize.

So I don’t know if it’s been super shook up. To me it’s typical INDYCAR. Anyone can win these races. If you’re in the top five or you’re fast and you’re starting in the back, you can still win the race from wherever on this grid.