IndyCar: Josef Newgarden not following anybody on track, either

Josef Newgarden is no longer following anybody on the race track either after unfollowing everybody on social media during the IndyCar offseason.
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, IndyCar
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, IndyCar / Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

If Josef Newgarden were an NFL player, his decision to unfollow everybody -- including everyone affiliated with Team Penske -- on social media during the offseason would have certainly led to speculation about a potential rift between himself and his team.

But Newgarden is one of four active IndyCar champions, and all three have won titles more recently than he has. In an attempt to place his focus squarely on his family and his on-track performance, the two-time champion and reigning Indy 500 winner effectively opted to eliminate the distractions.

And after a season that saw him tie his worst championship finish as a Team Penske driver (2017 to present), that's all there was to it.

Following the opening weekend of the 2024 IndyCar season, the decision appears to have paid off.

As it turns out, Josef Newgarden is not following anybody on the race track, either.

Newgarden took his first pole position in two seasons and dominated the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, leading 92 of 100 laps of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile (2.897-kilometer) temporary street circuit behind the wheel of his No. 2 Chevrolet en route to a Formula 1-level dominant win of 7.9121 seconds.

He did fall behind at one point due to a slower pit stop, which is something you would think other teams and drivers need to take advantage of due to how infrequent such issues are at Team Penske, but he wasted no time in getting back to the front.

While Newgarden did win on the streets of St. Petersburg in 2020, the last time he won the season opener at the track was in 2019, when he went on to become a two-time series champion.

Newgarden's 30th career win, which extended his win streak to 10 seasons, capped off a dominant day for Team Penske, which also finished in third place with Scott McLaughlin and fourth with two-time champion Will Power.

Reigning champion Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing did finish in sixth place, two spots higher than he finished last year en route to his historic championship run, but it's hard to argue against Roger Penske's team being the clear class of the field after a 2023 season which saw them go winless in all street races.

Arrow McLaren's Pato O'Ward was the top non-Team Penske driver in second place, and Andretti Global's Colton Herta was the top Honda driver in fifth.

Chip Ganassi Racing's relatively quiet day has raised the inevitable question about whether or not their resources are spread too thin with the addition of a fifth car.

In addition to muti-time champions Palou and Scott Dixon, they now have three drivers who have never run a full IndyCar season after losing Marcus Ericsson to Andretti Global, where he was forced to retire with some kind of issue after running inside the top five in a race he won last year.

No such questions are present at Team Penske, the only one of the sport's 10 teams that did not make any driver changes after last season. In fact, Newgarden, McLaughlin and Power have all been competing together since the 2020 season finale at St. Petersburg.

Next. The incoming IndyCar rookie who once beat Max Verstappen. The incoming IndyCar rookie who once beat Max Verstappen. dark

The 2024 IndyCar season is not scheduled to resume until Sunday, April 21 on the streets of Long Beach, California, though there is a $1 million exhibition race scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 24 at The Thermal Club.