Indy 500 champion celebrates his ‘incredibly special’ win

Josef Newgarden celebrates with his team and car owner Roger Penske, left, after winning the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis

Josef Newgarden celebrates with his team and car owner Roger Penske, left, after winning the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(NewsNation) — Josef Newgarden came out on top at the 2023 Indy 500. NewsNation spoke to him after his long-awaited victory. Here’s what he had to say.

Q: How does it feel to be the Indy 500 champion?

Newgarden: I’m emotionally drained. I can’t tell you how much this event takes out of you. And especially when you’re in it to win it at the end, and you have an opportunity.

It just takes all of your mental capacity to stay focused and to try and execute the race to win. I think 10 minutes after that race ended, I just completely drained myself, I went into the crowd, I wanted to feel the energy of the Indy 500. Just beyond words, at this point.

Q: Tell us about the last lap of the race.

Newgarden: This was such a difficult race to win. One of the hardest Indy 500s, I’d say, with three red flags to end the race. It came down to the final red flag was a one-lap shootout. I mean, we literally came out of the pits, crossed the line, and it was one lap to go. So I knew it was all going to be put on the line there.

For me, it was ‘I’m either winning this race, or I’m not bringing the car back, I will send this in the wall, I’m gonna put the car on the line.’ Because I’ve been here before. I finished second, third, fourth, I don’t want to come back with a top five. I want to win the race for my team. And, they were amazing.

Nothing is handed out here. You’re not ever given anything at Indianapolis, you have to go and earn it, and it’s so special to finally be able to realize the victory because it’s a ton of work. We come here and we basically live here for a month. And it comes down to one day, one moment to get it right. And when it really works out, it makes all that effort, you know, really worth it at the end, vindicated in a sense.

It’s the most difficult race to win. But people say if you’re not able to secure a win here, then your career was kind of for nothing. I don’t believe that. But it’s hard to not recognize that people feel that way. So I feel this weight off my shoulders just to finally be able to get a win here is incredibly special.

Q: What was the winning moment like?

Newgarden: I’ve always wanted to go into the crowd here. I said if I ever win the race, if we’re lucky enough to win the race as a team, I’m going in the crowd. And I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I’m gonna stop on the start-finish line right in the yard of bricks, and I knew where I can enter the crowd area. I was actually going to go higher up. But then it got so crazy. I was like, Oh, maybe I should go back. I’ve already hugged a couple of people and I got out of there.

There were a couple of people whose faces were just like ingrained into my mind. They were hugging me. They were so excited. It’s just, there’s something so special about Indianapolis, this Hoosier hospitality, this race. It’s unlike anything in the world. It is the hardest motor race in the world to win. And the energy that is brought here is unlike anywhere else. So that’s why I wanted to go in the crowd. I know what the Indy 500 is all about.

Q: What does this win mean for your family?

Newgarden: It’ll make me cry because she, she sees the harder days more than anybody, my wife, I mean. She’s such a rockstar, she runs our family. You know, I want to be able to do what I’m doing for a career, I wouldn’t even be able to have a family without her. And so I think it’s incredibly gratifying for her just as much as it is for me because she’s had to suffer through the tough times. And you know, today has really made it all worth it.

Q: What was it like standing in the winners’ circle?

Newgarden: You cannot beat the Indy 500. If you win this race, you get the milk. I’ve always wanted to do that. It was incredible. The dairy farmer that handed me the milk, I’ve been to his farm. I’ve seen his farm and how they actually produce milk. It was just a crazy moment. It was all full circle. And it’s so special that you just don’t know how to describe it to people. I love the tradition. And it was very sweet to be a part of it.


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