Ed Carpenter Racing driver Josef Newgarden was likely thinking his first trip to Watkins Glen International would be in a race car, but by way of invitation, his maiden journey to the track was a different type of racing experience.
Newgarden, driver of the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet in the Verizon IndyCar Series, attended NASCAR’s Aug. 7 Cheez-it 355 at The Glen as a guest of WGI to promote the Labor Day weekend INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen in upstate New York.
The 25-year-old Nashville native began his day with a press conference, joking with media that he was on a “reconnaissance mission” for the upcoming race. He will also join 18 of his Verizon IndyCar Series peers testing at the historic 3.4-mile permanent road course this Thursday.
Among Newgarden’s stops throughout the day were multiple visits to the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team of Jimmie Johnson, who graciously offered to host Newgarden. There, he met with crew chief Chad Knaus in the morning for a run-through of the typical race day and a tour of the team’s hauler.
He was then shown to the car and was immediately impressed by its technology, though he fought the urge to climb in as the crew worked furiously to prepare the No. 48 Chevy for the race just hours away.
🚨 Special guest alert 🚨@josefnewgarden is hanging w/ us @WGI & he's taking over the @TeamHendrick Instagram story! pic.twitter.com/B95UAKbBhD
An appearance with drivers Kasey Kahne, Ryan Blaney and Greg Biffle was next on the agenda, as they gathered for a tweet-up with track president Michael Printup. Also present was the honorary pace car driver, actor Jack Huston from the upcoming movie “Ben-Hur.”
Newgarden visited three of the track’s most popular and scenic hospitality areas – The Bog, Turn One Tavern and Glen Club – and fielded questions about his recent appearance on “American Ninja Warrior” and the difference between Indy cars and stock cars.
.@josefnewgarden chatting #INDYCAR with @JimmieJohnson! pic.twitter.com/Rj96PB53Op
Prior to being introduced at the public drivers meeting, Newgarden met with Johnson in his motorcoach. The six-time series champion was able to share insight on racing at Watkins Glen International, where he has won the pole twice and raced in sports cars as well as his regular stock car.
Following a visit to the Team Chevy display in the fan midway, which will also be present during the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen weekend, Newgarden again met with Johnson for driver introductions and an interview with shared broadcast partner NBC. The two drivers rode in the pre-race truck parade lap together before Johnson invited Newgarden to his pit stand to watch the race.
The INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen takes place Sept. 2-4. Tickets may be purchased at www.theglen.com. The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network at 2 p.m. ET Sept. 4.