Why I Care: Newgarden ready to Rev up month of May

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Despite planning to take full advantage of being the 2017 honorary chair for Rev presented by Fifth Third Bank, Josef Newgarden isn’t worried his overalls will fit a little more snugly during next weekend’s INDYCAR Grand Prix.

Tonight’s event kicks off the month of May activities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It serves up driver-inspired gourmet creations by some of the best chefs around and the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet driver isn't planning to take it easy.

“We train seriously in the off-season to get ourselves in a really good place and try to maintain that throughout the race season, but there's plenty of room for having a good time,” Newgarden said.

“I will make sure to eat as much food as I can at Rev — don't worry about that.”

The fourth annual Rev benefits the Methodist Health Foundation.

In addition to indulging in tasty culinary treats from more than 60 Indianapolis restaurants, its 3,000 guests will have ample opportunity to chat with their favorite Verizon IndyCar Series drivers while dancing the night away to live music.

A good indication of the massive popularity of Rev is the fact that the VIP tickets that include pace car rides around the famed Brickyard were sold out months ago.

While he feels being the face of Rev is a tremendous honor, Newgarden also relishes the opportunity to use his position as a racing driver to help others off the track.

“It's important for anyone to give back regardless of whether you are in sports or Hollywood or wherever,” said the 26-year-old who lies third overall four races into the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series standings after posting one win and two podiums.

“I think as human beings it's important to give to others. And it doesn't have to be grand things; it can just be simple gestures every day. I have been fortunate to be involved in a couple of different programs and I will do more in the future.”

Newgarden also supports the Best Friends Animal Society (http://bestfriends.org/), which promotes no-kill animal shelter policies and the spaying and neutering of cats and dogs. It runs the country's largest no-kill shelter in Utah, which houses about 1,600 abandoned animals of all kinds. In addition, he works with Indianapolis-based “Outrun the Sun” (http://outrunthesun.org/) that supports melanoma research and raises awareness of the link between sun exposure and skin cancer among fans attending races at IMS.

Rev hits close to home for the Tennessee native because one of the trauma programs it supports is the Indiana University Health Emergency Medical Center at the track that tends to drivers and fans alike in May for the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 50.

“A lot of the proceeds actually go to the medical center inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Newgarden, who won last month’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First.

“People might not realize that it is the busiest emergency room in the United States on race day for the Indy 500. They give out free medical care to anyone who needs it and we definitely want to take care of people who come out and watch the Indy 500 and make sure they have medical attention available if they need it.”

Both May races at IMS will air live on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network: the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course on May 13 (3:30 p.m. ET) and the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on the famed 2.5-mile oval on May 28 (11 a.m. ET).

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