Josef Newgarden

Josef Newgarden is riding into Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding (noon ET, NBC, Peacock, Universo, INDYCAR Radio Network) with an altered mindset compared to 12 months ago.

In a series as closely margined as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, being in the right frame of mind is a difference maker.

It’s a big reason why the 33-year-old powered his No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet to his 17th career NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole in the fourth-closest margin between the NTT P1 Award and second on a road or street circuit since 2008.

This new, more upbeat mentality stems to the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Newgarden won a series-leading five races but missed on winning his third championship, finishing runner-up in points for the third consecutive season.

“Those three years finishing runner-up in the championship were tough,” Newgarden said. “Those were very crushing.”

That’s also why his goal for 2023 was to leave little to no doubt and claim the Astor Challenge Cup championship trophy early, a bold endeavor since that feat was something that hadn’t been done since Sebastien Bourdais in 2007.

A four-win campaign, including an Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge triumph ensued. Still, Newgarden suffered his worst points finish since 2018 with a fifth-place result. Ironically enough, a prophetic Newgarden called the shot of an early championship clincher. Only it was Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou who did so.

To get out of a negative headspace, Newgarden ushered in a change of philosophy, boasting an invigorated outlook.

“I've tried to refocus my task list and really my priorities, and from that standpoint, it's been really, really positive,” he said. “In a lot of ways, just to be transparent, 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.

“I'm excited to get back to why I started doing this, why I started going racing. Getting back to the track, working on race cars and understanding how we can be faster than everybody, that's what I care about the most, so that's what I'm really focused on.

“Roger (Penske) always says, and I love when he says this, he says, ‘Good enough is not good enough.’ I'm the same way.”

Andretti Global Shares New HQ Designs

Andretti Global revealed new project designs for its proposed headquarters Thursday, as the organization is working toward a 2025 transition from its existing building on the west side of Indianapolis to a new location on a 90-acre campus in Fishers, a town located north of the city.

Through collaboration with a design team led by RATIO Architects, the reimagined structure elevates focus on cutting-edge design, further bringing to life Andretti’s vision through amenities that support the organization’s four key pillars: sustainability, technology, employee wellness and community.

The development continues through a strategic phased approach, with the Phase 1 building size at approximately 400,000 square feet. The 2025 move-in date for Phase 1 will focus on bringing the operations of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti’s IMSA programs under one roof alongside Andretti’s INDYCAR SERIES and INDY NXT operations.

Additional planning is also underway for the Andretti Experience, an expanded fan and community-focused portion of the complex featuring interactive experiences, memorabilia and museum exhibits, public dining, event hosting opportunities and more.

CGR Unveils New Trading Cards

The second season of Chip Ganassi Racing’s trading card series are available for purchase.

Season 2 of the #CGRCards project feature standard cards, unique chrome cards with great moments from the past and present along with rare, autographed inserts from the current Chip Ganassi Racing NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver lineup. The chrome cards feature notable achievements from this past season and throwbacks to Chip Ganassi Racing lore, including “The Pass” at Laguna Seca by Alex Zanardi, CGR’s first championship with Jimmy Vasser in 1996 and the team’s first Indianapolis 500 win in 2000 with Juan Pablo Montoya.

The set of cards is part of The American Legion and its Be The One initiative to combat veteran suicide, offering fans an opportunity to acquire team-official memorabilia.

Fans are invited to make a $10 donation for a single pack of eight random cards, drawing from the collection of 36 unique designs. Bulk ordering options also are available, with quantities offered at five, 10 and 20 packs.

The trading cards are available exclusively at Only 2,000 packs will be available through the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.

Dixon Eyes Maiden St. Pete Win

Scott Dixon’s 56 career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victories have taken place at 27 different venues. The 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg street course isn’t one of them.

Dixon has been shutout here, 0-for-19. But he’s not been far off.

Six-time series champion Dixon has seven career top-three finishes in St. Petersburg, three coming in the last five years, including a third-place finish last year.

Dixon also has an 11-percent win rate on street courses with 10 wins in 95 starts. Could Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding be the lucky year?

“I love coming to St. Pete,” Dixon said, who’ll start 11th in Sunday’s race. “It's a fantastic race. I think for a period of time, I didn't finish races here. I've gotten a little bit better with some podiums.

“We want to start the season strong. We want to start with a win. I really loved celebrating the championship here in 2020. Obviously, on the podium again there, but not on the top step.”

Power More Prepared for ‘24

In 2023, Will Power became the first defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion since Scott Dixon in 2004 to not win a race in the season after clinching the title.

Part of the decline in performance was tied to his off-track struggles. His wife, Liz, was battling a life-threatening illness. That rightfully took most of the Power’s focus.

With his wife on the mend and in a vastly better position than a year ago, Power’s mindset is where it needs to be to strive for his third series championship.

“Oh, yeah, way more prepared,” Power said. “Way, way more than I was last year. I'm fitter, have more miles, and just ahead of the game in many ways. Mentally better because you're not thinking of your family. It's tough when your mind is somewhere else. My mind is right in the game, right in the game.”

Power ended up fourth and third, respectively, in the two practice sessions this weekend and rolls off eighth in his No. 12 Verizon Business Team Penske Chevrolet on Sunday.

New Look for Ed Carpenter Racing

Some of the brightest cars on track belonged to the new-look Ed Carpenter Racing duo. Rookie Christian Rasmussen’s bright blue No. 20 Guy Care Chevrolet and Rinus VeeKay’s No. 21 green and black Chevrolet shined on the 1.8-mile street circuit.

The most noticeable difference, outside of the livery colors, is an angled number on the nose cones of both cars. It’s a different look than the other 25 cars on the grid.

“If you want to run fast, you’ve got to lean forward,” VeeKay said.

That mindset has paid off. VeeKay was in the top six for both practice sessions and qualified seventh for Sunday’s 100-lap race, his best starting position since last May’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, where he qualified second.

News And Notes

  • Chip Ganassi Racing hasn’t enjoyed a strong weekend to date. In qualifying, last year’s Rookie of the Year, Marcus Armstrong, was the team’s top qualifier in 10th. Dixon (11th), Palou (13th), Linus Lundqvist (19th) and Kyffin Simpson (23rd) all have less-than-ideal starting spots. However, don’t count this group out. CGR is known for fast starts. The team is eyeing its fourth season-opening victory in the last five years. Dixon won the first race of the 2020 season at Texas Motor Speedway. Palou accomplished that same feat a year later, this time at Barber Motorsports Park. Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin won the season opener here in 2022 while Marcus Ericsson was victorious in his No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda a season ago on the streets of St. Pete.
  • Nolan Siegel captured his first career INDY NXT by Firestone pole on Saturday. He’ll lead the field to green in Sunday morning’s 45-lap INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which starts at 10 a.m. (Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network).
  • Praise Olatoke, a former Ohio State University track & field star and a former Scotland Under-20 athlete of the year in 2019, is on hand this weekend. He is also a part of the NFL International Pathway Program Class of 2024. While here, he ran into Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore, who’s here taking in the weekend with Arrow McLaren. Olatoke immediately recognized Moore for being part of the NFL’s HBO documentary “Hard Knocks” when the Colts were featured in 2021. Moore has become a massive NTT INDYCAR SERIES supporter and is ready to take the next step to be more involved in the series. He’s planning to travel to as many races as possible this season.