Josef Newgarden: I've been comfortable (in IndyCar) from the start

Chris Trotman

SB Nation was granted an exclusive interview with IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden. In it, he discusses the turnaround at Honda and why he doesn't have a southern accent. (Seriously)

SB Nation: You don't have an accent, which is weird considering that you're from Tennessee. Did the Brits beat it out of you when you were competing overseas?

Josef Newgarden: Maybe. (laughs) Some of it was beat out of me during the two and a half years that I lived in Europe.

That's a good question. I really don't know why I've never had one. My mom is from Denmark and Dad is from Yonkers and that kept me in check. I really don't have any roots in Nashville despite having grown up there.

SBN: Was it that kind of obscurity that made the "Incognito" videos work so well?

JN: I have no idea if that's why they worked but I enjoyed the heck of out of those. I wish I could do something like that again but it's difficult because we're so focused on the IndyCar program and the time restraints that come with it. It's difficult to balance everything but I love being a part of it.

SBN: You guys have been fast and close on so many occasions. How disappointing is to have not visited victory lane yet considering the mass parity surrounding IndyCar this season?

JN: Yeah, it's been difficult. It's tough not being able to win. That's why you compete -- to do well and win races, not to finish fifth, seventh or ninth. Winning is why we're here and not winning motivates you to get better.

SBN: It must be an advantage to have an owner like Sarah Fisher who has also been in the driver's seat before. Has she been able to balance having optimistic expectations with the understanding that the team is working with a smaller budget?

JN: She's been great. I think she understands the process of how everything works, especially when things are going awry. She gets why things are happening from a driver's standpoint as well as from the owner's side -- very understanding.

SBN: How would you rate your comfort zone in IndyCar right now -- your improvement?

JN: Comfort. I don't know if it's a matter of comfort. I've been comfortable from the get-go even when we started last year. Our focus has been on figuring out how to gel as a team. IndyCar is very much a team process and you have to look there when something is missing.

SBN: The test at Sonoma yesterday -- how did it go?

JN: The tests certainly help team chemistry but it's not going to solve miracles. We're looking to solve things in a methodical way. It's not going to make a drastic difference because we're testing alongside everyone else but it's better to be able to participate.

SBN: It's still a bit off but what are your prospects for Sonoma? Do you have a chip on your shoulder considering what happened to you here last year? (Newgarden was collected in an accident on lap 65 that injured his finger and sidelined him for the next race at Baltimore)

JN: It's a tough place. It doesn't reward direct driving. It just doesn't allow it. It's almost counterproductive and it puts a premium on having a balanced pace. Judging from last tear a top-10 there would be miraculous. I think a top-five would be a great aim but we're showing up to win. But realistically, a top-5 or a top-10 would be fantastic.

SBN: How has having Honda back on track helped your program? Do you guys work with the other Honda teams to help bridge the gap?

JN: Honda does a great job of always fighting. They do things to get their teams as great as they could be -- so they're always there. We have great engines and we love working with them. We don't work with any of the other teams though. We don't really do a lot of that in IndyCar but having Honda support us has been great.

SBN: What are you most looking forward to right now? Obviously ‘the next race' is the easy answer but what about the off-season or races a little down the road.

JN: We do several karting races at the end of the year. Those are very cool because we race against some of the IndyCar guys there too. I look forward to that and I'd love to try the Rolex 24 at Daytona at some point and take part in that. It's never too early to look at next year's 500 and hopefully we'll do well in that too.

SBN: Growing up in Nashville with the Speedway and the Fairgrounds half-mile, did you or do you have any ambitions to try NASCAR racing someday?

JN: I love stock cars so maybe one day. I don't know when I'd have time to try one but it's something I would love to do if given the opportunity.

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