Josef Newgarden

NASCAR America: Josef Newgarden celebrates IndyCar championship (video)

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On Tuesday’s NASCAR America, we checked in with the new king of IndyCar racing, 2017 season Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden.

Among the things the Hendersonville, Tennessee (just north of Nashville) native spoke about was the help he got in his amazing first season with Team Penske from all his teammates.

“My teammates were great, letting me just being part of that group right from the beginning and trying to contribute and help me learn so I could contribute and help us be stronger overall,” Newgarden said.

He also talked about the surge in U.S. drivers in the series, much like NASCAR is enjoying with several young drivers including another teammate, Ryan Blaney, who texted Newgarden at length to offer him congratulations and compared the youth movement in both racing series.

“We’ve got a lot of young talent that’s trying to show the way and prove themselves against the already proven people in the sport,” Newgarden said. “It’s a fascinating thing to watch.”

Latest edition of Penske Games: Drivers draw North Carolina … or not

Photo courtesy Team Penske
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In the eighth episode of Penske Games, Team Penske’s NASCAR and IndyCar drivers were given a simple task: draw an outline of the state of North Carolina.

Given that most of them live in the TarHeel State, you’d think they’d have no problem fulfilling the task.

If you did think that, you’d be wrong.

And what’s with Helio Castroneves? For some reason, he was fixated on drawing Florida (it’s easier, we guess).

Maybe it might have been easier if Team Penske’s drivers spelled North Carolina than drew it?

Anyway, check out the video above. And if you want, let’s see if you can draw North Carolina.

You’ve gotta watch this: Joey Logano is the best hula hooper on Team Penske

Video courtesy Team Peske
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Millennials likely won’t get this one. But their parents probably will.

So, mom and dad, remember when you were young’uns and played with a hula hoop? You know, the big hoop that you used to roll around your hips?

Team Penske decided to go old school in its latest edition of The Penske Games, prompting NASCAR drivers Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney to go head-to-head — well, actually, make that hip-to-hip — with their IndyCar counterparts: Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and newcomer Josef Newgarden.

There was a whole lot of shakin’ going on among the seven drivers with considerable hilarity at who could keep the hula hoop rolling around their hips, and those who were absolutely clueless.

We won’t mention who was good or bad — you’ll have to check out the video for that — but we will tell you who won the hip rolling contest with surprising finesse and dexterity: Joey Logano.

And he did it with aplomb: “I can do this all day long,” Logano quipped after winning the “competition.”

In response, Josef Newgarden said of Logano’s hula hoop prowess, “He’s a little weird like that. He probably does that in his spare time.”

Joey Logano, master hula hooper? Who knew?

From cap and gown to helmet and firesuit, today will be memorable for Austin Cindric

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CONCORD, N.C. — Austin Cindric will walk across a stage to receive his diploma and then walk into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage shortly afterward this morning.

“Off to the real world,’’ Cindric said.

The 18-year-old driver for Brad Keselowski Racing will graduate from Cannon School, a college preparatory school, and then make the short drive to Charlotte Motor Speedway for tonight’s Truck race. Today also is his mother’s birthday.

Cindric’s father, Tim, is president of Team Penske and serves as a race strategist for IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden. Tim Cindric will attend his son’s graduation before flying back to Indianapolis as the team prepares for next week’s Indianapolis 500.

Austin Cindric ranks 15th in the points after four races this season. He’s coming off his first career top-10 finish, a 10th-place result last weekend at Kansas Speedway.

“I didn’t think it was going to take me 10 (career) truck races to finish in the top 10 with the speed we’ve shown,’’ he said Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I feel like a lot of drivers go through the same things. I think I’m jelling really well with my team. I think it’s only a matter of time before we start being a threat.’’

As for additional education? Cindric says that could come later.

“I think education is extremely important,’’ he said. “Obviously, my parents would as well. It was kind of hard to convince my mom on the fact that I should focus on the racing deal.

“Really in NASCAR, or in many sports, or any other forms of racing, you only get one true shot at it. I feel this is it for me. I feel like a lot of NASCAR teams don’t look at you when you’re kind of past 21 or 22 years old. You’re still a young guy, but you’re not the young guy.

“So being 18 and being in the Truck series, I think is extremely critical. I need put every ounce of effort into making that better … learning as much as I can, being at the shop every day. I think it’s all extremely important. You can always go back to school. I’m fully prepared to go to college, and I think years on, whether the racing thing is going the way I want it to or not, I feel l’ll do some online classes and learn more.

“Racing is my full focus right now. I’ve got to make sure I can say that I’ve done all that I can to make sure that happens.’’

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Expanded NASCAR America at 5:30 p.m. ET — NASCAR Hall nominees, ATL penalties, Newgarden

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Today’s expanded live edition of NASCAR America – from 5:30 p.m. ET to 7 p.m. ET – on NBCSN is a can’t-miss show.

Carolyn Manno hosts from our Stamford, Connecticut studio, while Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett will join the show from NBC Charlotte.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll have exclusive coverage of the announcement of the 20 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018.
  • NASCAR issued heavy penalties to Joe Gibbs Racing and JTG Daugherty Racing from last weekend’s races at Atlanta. How will the penalties impact their teams – and how severe do the penalties have to get before drivers and teams learn to follow the rules?
  • Dave Burns talks to crew chief of the 24 car, Alan Gustafson, and finds out what’s been behind his driver Chase Elliott’s strong start to 2017.
  • Carolyn sits down with IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden to discuss this weekend’s season opener in St. Petersburg, which is also his debut for Team Penske. The young American star is out to prove he can carry on Penske’s winning tradition.
  • Also, we expect a big announcement from Las Vegas and a potential second race date per season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. NBCSports.com’s Dustin Long joins us to break down the big news.

If you can’t catch the show on TV, you also can watch it via the online stream at http://nascarstream.nbcsports.com

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you plug-in that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5:30 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

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