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Newgarden “didn’t rehearse” emotional IndyCar press conference

Under-fire IndyCar star Josef Newgarden says he didn’t rehearse his emotional performance in front of the press, despite it keeping him awake at night.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet press conference

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt

Reigning Indy 500 champion Newgarden faced the press for the first time at Barber Motorsports Park today, just days after the revelation that he and Team Penske team-mate Scott McLaughlin had been disqualified from the season-opening St. Petersburg race for breaking IndyCar’s push-to-pass rules at restarts.

Penske’s Tim Cindric revealed that an illegal line of code was to blame for the system being available, while Newgarden told journalists a new spin on the story – that he believed he was able to use his overtake button at restarts, as per the exhibition race at Thermal Club which followed the St. Pete event.

In an emotional half-hour session in front of the media, during which his voice wavered on several occasions as his integrity was questioned, Newgarden said he wanted to tell “the truth” about what happened and why.

“I didn't want to have anything prepared, I didn't want to rehearse anything,” he said. “Of course, I thought about it. How could you not?

“I've been thinking about this non-stop for 48 hours. I woke up at 3am this morning, I couldn't fall back to sleep. I was like, man I got to be rested to go speak to these guys.

“The truth is easy. It's so easy to just tell the truth. I wanted to do that today.”

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet press conference

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet press conference

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt

When asked by Autosport how he can earn back the trust of his competitors, Newgarden replied: “I don't know how you do that, you know.

“It's important to state, and I think it's the truth, I don't know that anybody is gonna believe what I've told you here today, and that's OK.

“It's a crazy set of circumstances to try and just reason with, it's certainly not gonna come from words, it's just gonna take repetitive action, it’s all you can do, and hopefully I can stand on that in the future.

“However long it takes or how many years, if I'm given the time I'll just try and earn it through action.”

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet press conference

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet press conference

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt

He was also quizzed about Roger Penske’s perceived conflict of interest, in running cars in a series that he also owns, and Newgarden admitted that the episode was “not acceptable” to its leader’s standards.

“We hold ourselves to a really high standard, a really high standard,” said Newgarden. “I mean, everybody knows that we don't have any room to deviate from that.

“Whether you've meant to make a mistake, or you just did, it doesn't matter if it's by accident or by design it's not acceptable.

“It's hard to wrestle with it, when it happens, regardless of the circumstances. I can't speak on Roger's behalf, but just from my side, yes, I think we hold ourselves to a really high standard.

“Speaking for myself, I fell short of it and I just apologize to anybody that we've offended with it. I can't say much more than that.

“I'm just sorry it happened.”

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