NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Josef Newgarden naturally was within the highlight Thursday evening, emceeing his charity ping pong event on the eve of the Music Metropolis Grand Prix.
Bouncing between interviews with nationwide and native media, cuddling puppies and deftly flicking a paddle for the higher a part of two hours, Newgarden (who lives full time in Nashville along with his spouse, Ashley, and new child son, Kota) was the host with essentially the most in his hometown.
The fourth annual Movie star Ping Pong Problem (held for the second consecutive yr in Nashville) raised greater than $65,000 for charities Severe Enjoyable Kids’s Community and Wags and Walks (therefore the puppies) and drew greater than a dozen IndyCar drivers to Pins Mechanical in downtown Nashville.
It appeared the opening salvo to a weekend welcoming celebration for the return of NTT IndyCar Sequence to his Tennessee stomping grounds.
But it surely truly was Newgarden dropping the curtain on his look schedule for the weekend.
What an evening. Thanks a lot to everybody who got here out and joined us for our 4th annual ping-pong event. Because of our beneficiant sponsors and ticket patrons we raised over $65,000 for @SeriousFunCamps & @WagsandWalks! See ya subsequent yr! pic.twitter.com/ON5ydLFWNd
— Josef Newgarden (@josefnewgarden) August 5, 2022
For the following three days, the two-time sequence champion mentioned he could be targeted fully on the monitor.
“A hundred percent; I shut the whole lot else down,” Newgarden mentioned Thursday. “This occasion was a precedence. I actually needed to boost some cash for these nice organizations, however apart from that, I simply wish to run the race. So no matter else we don’t should do, let’s not do. I attempted to simply give myself a bit higher alternative.”
It’s a lesson realized from final season whereas operating himself ragged throughout IndyCar’s first go to to Nashville. For 4 days, Newgarden embraced the position of main ambassador for the inaugural Music Metropolis Grand Prix. In between fulfilling each look and interview request, he additionally was adopted by a documentary crew that produced a 22-minute episode of “Off the Grid” in regards to the star-crossed weekend.
Newgarden crashed his No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet in Flip 11 throughout qualifying and completed 10th after beginning 12th.
His viewing of the documentary later was revelatory.
“I believed it was humorous; you may sense the depth on me on that weekend, numerous the frustration,” Newgarden advised NBC Sports activities throughout a preseason interview. “Nashville was so much to soak up, and I used to be shocked how a lot I prolonged myself out. I actually thought I used to be going to be higher at attempting to prioritize the racing aspect of the weekend. I knew how vital that was going to be and the way a lot I used to be going to be pulled in each which course. I believe that received the higher of me. … My focus was simply pulled away from the monitor aspect an excessive amount of. And once I was on the monitor and seeing the footage, you have been seeing numerous frustration from me. Being shelled in fairly a bit.
“I needed to cover greater than something that weekend. It was actually arduous to be in all people’s eye, however that’s a part of racing. You must thrive in these moments. I believe it was a educating second for me. I realized how I can deal with that and the place I can set boundaries.”
There have been no boundaries on bettering at Nashville, which Newgarden mentioned was one his weakest tracks in 2021.
His group introduced a radically new setup that confirmed promise with the fifth-fastest pace in apply Friday.
“We got here with one thing that’s productive,” he mentioned. “We have to work on it. I’ve numerous religion that with this group right here we will determine it out, have a superb weekend, not let this be a damaging within the final 4 (races of the season). I believe we will have an excellent weekend right here as an entire group.”
Newgarden is 32 factors behind teammate Will Energy with 4 races remaining after posting a fifth July 30 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway street course. He had been cleared to race solely two days earlier after being hospitalized for a fall at Iowa Speedway, the place he crashed from the lead whereas attempting to finish a weekend sweep.
“I felt actually good; I felt fairly regular,” Newgarden mentioned. “I might in all probability say I wasn’t 100%, however I felt good. I felt regular in numerous respects, however I’ve been attempting to get myself even higher. A high 5 was actually robust for us. We wanted to be within the race. I used to be completely happy to be there. I believe we had extra potential than fifth, however we now have 4 races to go nonetheless. Loads of time to make sufficient occur.”
Beginning with what he hopes is a clear – and quiet – house weekend.
“I strive to not make it extra pressure-filled than some other race,” Newgarden mentioned. “Each occasion we go to is numerous strain. We wish to carry out. Doesn’t matter what race it’s. Clearly that is extra particular being from Nashville and to have this occasion right here.
“We wish folks to return to Nashville and consider this as an occasion, a Tremendous Bowl kind occasion. So there’s numerous strain for it. I make it like some other race, some other day. Deal with my job. I believe in case you try this, you give your self a greater alternative to simply run the race you’d usually run and doubtlessly win it.”