Newgarden Finishes Eighth at Laguna Seca to Win Second Series Championship; Rookie Colton Herta Wins Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
“Well done, Josef Newgarden, two championships in three years.” – Leigh Diffey
“Although it wasn’t the most sensational day for Newgarden on the track, he did everything he had to do.” – Townsend Bell
“Colton Herta wins at a track where his dad did. Awesome win.” – Diffey
“Colton has done a great job in the second half of this race maintaining the tire grip.” – Paul Tracy
STAMFORD, Conn. – Sept. 22, 2019 – Josef Newgarden of Team Penske won the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series Championship today on NBC by finishing eighth at the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Newgarden was one of four drivers with a chance to win the championship heading into the final race of the season, and his eighth-place finish was good enough to win him the title. It was the 16th championship for Team Penske.
Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud (-25), who won the Indy 500 earlier this year, finished second for the season with a fourth-place finish at Monterey, followed by Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi (-33) and Scott Dixon (-63) of Chip Ganassi Racing. Rookie Colton Herta of Harding Steinbrenner Racing won the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, his second win of the season.
NBC Sports’ INDYCAR team of Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell called the race, with Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller reporting from the pits.
Coverage included pre-race interviews with all four championship contenders, and pole-sitter Colton Herta and his father and former INDYCAR driver Bryan Herta, a two-time winner at Laguna Seca.
The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey concluded NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series, its first as the exclusive media partner of INDYCAR.
Following are highlights from today’s coverage:
Josef Newgarden to Marty Snider after winning the IndyCar Championship: “I am so happy. I was crying that whole (last) lap … I’ve had the best people around me taking care of everything, I couldn’t ask for more than what I have. (I’m) just really thankful for everyone that has done everything for me.”
Diffey: “Josef Newgarden is the 2019 champion! He’s done everything he needed to do and comes across the line with a 25-point buffer. Well done, Josef Newgarden, two championships in three years.”
Bell on Newgarden: “Although it wasn’t the most sensational day for Newgarden on the track, he did everything he had to do, and he had the support of his team.”
Tracy on Team Penske: “Another crown for Roger Penske. He has been highly successful at this track. This will be his sixth win here.”
Diffey on Penske: “16th Championship for the Captain.”
Roger Penske to Kevin Lee about winning the INDYCAR Championship and Indianapolis 500 in the same year: “What a great year for us, wasn’t it? (The) whole Penske team has done an unbelievable job this year … can’t thank them enough.”
Penske to Lee on Newgarden: “He’s a real pro, a great driver, and I can’t thank him enough for all his hard work.”
Diffey on Herta: “Colton Herta wins at a track where his dad did, awesome win…Now that is a way to finish your rookie season. (He) may not have won Rookie of the Year, but he’s got two victories on the season and three pole positions. That is awesome stuff to begin your INDYCAR career, and you’re just a teenager.”
Bell on Dixon: “Even when his tires are fried, he is so clever at finding a way to make it really hard on the trailing car.”
Tracy on Herta: “Colton has done a great job in the second half of this race maintaining the tire grip. Struggled a little bit (in the beginning of the race), but right now he has (Will) Power under control.”
Tracy on Pagenaud passing Felix Rosenqvist with 15 laps to go: “Super deep, super clean pass. He’s got the car coming back on those tires. That was a beautiful pass.”
Diffey on Will Power moving into second place out of the pits: “In typical Will Power style, it wasn’t that long ago that he was in a slump…if he could pull off a win here, he would win three of the last four races.”
Bell on Pagenaud holding off Dixon for second place at the end of lap 66: “Pagenaud really needed those second-position points. That was a key moment right there as Power stays out for another lap.”
Tracy on Pagenaud and Newgarden at lap 52: “Pagenaud is playing on the offense, Newgarden’s team is playing on the defense. When you’re looking at the clock in a title fight, you could run into trouble.”
Diffey on Felix Rosenqvist moving from 14th place to 5th: “Felix Rosenqvist continues to be the standout of this race.”
Diffey on if Will Power will let teammate Simon Pagenaud pass: “He will. He knows the deal. He’s not going to play any interference. He’s going to help both his teammates whenever he can.”
Bell on Newgarden giving up a position to Rossi: “Smart move from Newgarden. That might be the move that gets him the championship.”
Tracy on Rossi’s first pit stop in which he lost a spot to Newgarden: “He got smoked by the Penske crew in the pit lane, and that is a big mistake.”
Diffey on Herta leading Dixon at the beginning of the race: “A teenager leads a five-time series champ. How often do you get to say that?”
Diffey: “INDYCAR is back at the famed Laguna Seca for the first time in 15 years…this is an exciting day…This region of the country is so scenic, so beautiful. This track gives us amazing views.”
Tracy on Josef Newgarden (pre-race): “Josef has to walk the knife’s edge for two hours today and not get sucked in (to a mistake).”