Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden has become the unofficial face of the IndyCar series since he first joined the sport over a decade ago. Now, a new NBC mini-documentary as part of the “Off the Grid” series shows just why he’s such an integral part of the sport’s newest generation.
This episode of “Off the Grid,” filmed by NBC, follows Tennessee native Newgarden during his first-ever true home race — and one he also played a part in designing — the Nashville Music City Grand Prix. The race itself was... a little bit of a hot mess, but Newgarden shoulders the pressure of a new race, a championship battle, and a bad performance with ease.
Newgarden crashed during qualifying, which left him on the back foot come the green flag. Newgarden needed a good result in that race to bring him back into the title contention fold, narrowing the gap between himself and championship leader Alex Palou. Newgarden then got caught up during an early race crash with his own teammate and went on to finish 10th.
“Off the Grid” really highlights Newgarden’s seemingly ever-positive attitude, where he may not always be smiling but he’s able to take a bad day in stride. As crew members note, Newgarden’s not the kind of driver that gets on the team radio to place blame and ask his crew members to take sides. He recognizes that something shitty just happened and rolls with it gracefully.
And that’s part of what makes Newgarden such a damn good advocate for the sport. He’s always been at the forefront of whatever content IndyCar was making, which has included some historically goofy ads. He’s always had a positive word, a fair critique, and a welcome suggestion. And, from the fan’s perspective, he’s a star. Newgarden remembers names and faces like a true champ, and he’s always friendly during autograph sessions, even if he’s having a tough weekend.
You can watch the full “Off the Grid” episode below:
The documentary also shows something important: That IndyCar is taking its pre-season buildup seriously. The series has been slow to recover from a shaky reunification, but it has really found its stride in recent years. The competition is great, and the marketing team has really figured out how to turn a compelling storyline into a great video.