IndyCar's Josef Newgarden would trade title for Indy 500 win

Full Screen
1 / 3

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden poses for photos during IndyCar Media Day, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN, Texas – Josef Newgarden has already won two IndyCar Series championships and heads into the 2020 season chasing rare back-to-back crowns, something that hasn't happened in nearly a decade.

Yet he'd give up a third title this season to win the Indianapolis 500.

“No doubt,” Newgarden said Monday as IndyCar gathered for two days of testing at the Circuit of the Americas ahead of the March 15 season opener in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Everybody knows it's the hardest thing to win,” he said. "I’ve come to peace with Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though. That place doesn’t owe you anything. I don't think it cares how many races you've won. It doesn't care how fast you are that month of May. It doesn't care how many championships you've won. It just doesn't owe you anything.

“It's one of those tricky places that sometimes it doesn't work out for anybody, and sometimes it works out four times for a person,” Newgarden said.

The 29-year-old Team Penske driver has started the Indy 500 eight times, with a third-place finish in 2016 his only time on the podium. He was 19th there in 2017 when he won his first season championship, and was fourth last season.

“I’ve gotten comfortable with the fact that maybe I’ll never win this race. Then again I might win it five years in a row," Newgarden said. “I don’t obsess over it yet. .. That place chooses you one day.”

Penske driver Simon Pagenaud was the chosen one last season. The Frenchman won the 2016 championship and claimed his first Indy 500 victory last year, which he called a life-changing moment.