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Penske, Newgarden pick up Baby Borg trophies for Indy 500 win

Penske, Newgarden pick up Baby Borg Trophies for Indy 500 win

(AP) — Roger Penske received his record-extending 19th Indianapolis 500 trophy at a Tuesday reception in Michigan alongside winner Josef Newgarden, who needed 12 tries to earn his first Borg-Warner.

The Borg-Warner is one of the most iconic trophies in sports and features the likeness of every previous Indy 500 winner. Replicas called a “baby Borg” are later presented to the winning driver and team owner, and the presentation at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn is essentially Newgarden’s final duty in a long list of celebratory obligations for the Indy 500 winner.

“I think the fun thing is that the 500 has been the gift that keeps on giving. You get to relive the moment, the race and the significance of the event,” Newgarden said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I think all these special things that follow the race itself makes your appreciation for what the Indy 500 is just go up 10x.

“Man, it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been there and how much you love the Indy 500, it is once you win it that you fully appreciate and understand the significance. It’s impossible to know until you’ve won an Indy 500.”

Newgarden’s victory last May was his first on the historic oval at Indianapolis, and the first for Penske since Penske completed his purchase of the historical landmark in 2020. Although Newgarden ultimately finished fifth in the IndyCar standings, the Indy 500 victory earned the Henderson, Tennessee, native “Sportsperson of the Year” by The Tennessean, the hometown newspaper for the two-time series champion.

He said he’ll put his Baby Borg on a shelf in his office as he contemplates finding a final display area. And while the Baby Borg ceremony was his first, Newgarden said 19 previous presentations have made Penske already start looking ahead to his 20th Indy 500 victory.

“He’s more motivated than anybody to win the 20th Indy 500,” Newgarden said of his boss, who turns 87 next month. “He’s already on to the next one, which I totally love.”

Penske ended 2023 with a second consecutive NASCAR championship following Ryan Blaney’s title-deciding run in November. Now it is on to the Rolex 24 at Daytona — where Newgarden somehow talked Penske into giving him a slot in one of the two Penske Porsche entries — and Penske’s first chance of 2024 to win a race.

Team Penske has just one previous win in the most prestigious endurance race in the United States, but it was in 1969 with Mark Donohue and Chuck Parson co-driving a Lola-Chevrolet. Team Penske won the GT class in 1966.

“I have been asking for a long, long time. Perhaps winning the 500 was helpful,” Newgarden said of the call to compete for Penske at Daytona. “This is going to be my eighth year with Team Penske and I’ve tried to contribute and in everything I’ve done be an additive. I hope that’s the reason they’ve given me an opportunity to be part of the Rolex team — to win big races.”

Newgarden will try and race his way to back-to-back Baby Borg trophies in the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26.