Former JPII Student Josef Newgarden Wins IndyCar Championship

Holden Carter, Sports Writer

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Josef Newgarden, IndyCar driver, won the league’s points championship last weekend. He is a local racer, born and raised here in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Not only that, but he is also a former JPII student. Newgarden attended his freshman and sophomore years here at JPII but left school to pursue a racing career. I think it’s safe to say his decision paid off.

Newgarden recently signed with Team Penske after leaving Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR). Just three races into the 2017 IndyCar season, Newgarden won his first race at Barber Motorsports Park. He would go onto win three more races, propelling him to a championship title. Newgarden was only the second American in 11 year to win an IndyCar Series title. At the age of 26, he is the youngest driver to win the title since 23-year-old Sam Hornish Jr. won in 2002.

Team Penske is one of the most successful racing teams across the world of motorsports. Penske took a huge gamble by signing Newgarden, obviously not expecting a title in his first season with the team. This was Team Penske’s 15th IndyCar Title. Penske dominated this year’s season, and four out of the top five drivers in points were from the team. Newgarden, of course, finished above them all as he held off his teammates and four-time champion Scott Dixon.

Mr. McLaren recalls Newgarden being a student here a JPII.

“He was late to school frequently,” McLaren said. “I would sit him down and ask him why. He would always say he was working on his race car. That was always the excuse.”

McLaren also remembered that when Newgarden was leaving JPII, he went to the teacher and said, “You will remember me.” Newgarden was confident in his abilities as only a sophomore, but I don’t even think he saw this type of success in his future.

Newgarden returned to Hendersonville earlier this week for a ceremony in his honor. Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary presented Newgarden with a plaque and declared Wednesday, September 20, “Josef Newgarden Day.”

Newgarden said he loves the appreciation he’s been receiving, although he finds it surprising and awkward at times. He is a champion of one of the most popular racing leagues in the world, but to Newgarden, he is a Hendersonville native who loves to race fast cars.

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