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Newgarden: Rolex Drive “Helps” for Possible Le Mans Debut

Team Penske IndyCar star prepping for potential future Penske Porsche LMDh opportunity…

Photo: Team Penske

Josef Newgarden said his “eyes are always open” on the possibility of additional sports car racing opportunities beyond January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, stating that his initial experience with Tower Motorsport “helps for sure” on the possibility of contesting next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The NTT IndyCar Series star, who will join fellow Team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin in Tower’s LMP2 entry for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener, has been tipped to be a part of the team’s lineup for the French endurance classic.

The Florida-based squad, which won this year’s LMP2 title, has secured an automatic invite to Le Mans courtesy of its Bronze-rated driver John Farano also winning the Jim Trueman Award.

When asked by Sportscar365 if he could contest Le Mans this year with the team based on his Daytona drive and LMP2 experience he will have accumulated by the end of the Rolex 24, Newgarden said: “I think it helps for sure.

“I want to start with Daytona and see if we can get through this and have a good run. Just being here [at Daytona] and being a part of it, I think it naturally just increases the potential of it happening.

“I would love to run [at Le Mans] and would love to do a lot more endurance racing. We’ll see what can be put together after Daytona.”

Should Newgarden be confirmed, he would likely not be paired with McLaughlin, with the Gold-rated Kiwi, per ACO rules, not able to receive dispensation to miss the Le Mans Test Day, which falls on the Detroit weekend.

Newgarden, meanwhile, is Platinum rated by the FIA, a categorization the governing bodies recognize as an exception to the test day mandate.

Both Newgarden and McLaughlin’s foray into sports car racing is understood to help prepare the duo for potential outings in Porsche Penske Motorsport’s factory LMDh program in the future.

While the ten-driver squad has already been finalized for the factory Porsche 963s in both the WeatherTech Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship next year, Porsche LMDh factory director Urs Kuratle indicated that the two Team Penske drivers are on the radar for 2024 or beyond.

“Of course they are,” Kuratle told Sportscar365. “They’re Penske drivers and are in the same family, if you want. They’re not Porsche works drivers but are still in the extended focus.

“In 2024 or 2025, it’s a different story.”

Newgarden dismissed that any plan has already been put into place for he or McLaughlin at Porsche Penske but expressed his desire to jump at new opportunities, especially in sports car racing.

“My eyes are always open,” he said. “I try to be as present as possible but I just want to be in the action and see what I can get involved in.

“I’m a big fan of what we’re doing on the team [in LMDh] and the connection with Porsche is really impressive. It’s fun to be able to see that a little bit from inside being a part of Team Penske.

“I don’t know what the future is going to hold. I always try to stay present is the best thing I can do. If there’s an opportunity, I’ll be happy to jump at the chance.”

Newgarden: Tower Drive Came Through Peter Baron

The 31-year-old revealed that his deal for Daytona came through former Starworks Motorsport team owner Peter Baron, whose team evolved into Tower, which is now run by Ricky Capone.

“It was a great opportunity,” Newgarden said. “It mostly started with Peter Baron.

“I’ve known Peter for a long time and he connected me with John [Farano] and then John was excited to put something together. It just seemed like a good fit.

“John’s got a great team and they were super-successful last year, so for me it was a very exciting opportunity. I’m even more thrilled that we could do it with Scott and myself.

“It was the right time, the right situation and hopefully we can make the most of it.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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