Porsche “can close out as good as anybody”

The reigning Indianapolis 500 champion only made his sportscar debut at Daytona 12 months ago in a Tower Motorsports LMP2 car, before making his PPM GTP bow at Road Atlanta’s IMSA SportsCar Championship season-closing Petit Le Mans – where he finished fourth in a factory-entered 963.

Sharing with Dane Cameron, Felipe Nasr and Matt Campbell, Newgarden says he’s well prepared to face the challenge of the 24 hours that lie ahead.

“I feel really comfy in the car,” Newgarden told Motorsport.com. “There’s a lot that goes into each stint, it’s going to be about stint averages, double stints, how you stack up within all those segments.

“I feel like we’ve got a really good base underneath us. I think we can be strong at many points in the race, survive the double-stint situation that everyone has to work through, and if we can get ourselves in position at the end, then I think we’ve got enough to capitalize on it.

“So I think we’ve cautiously optimistic going into the race right now.

“It’s going to take all of us to perform, I’m focused on doing my part, we’ve got to own each ‘race’ that we run – because they all count.”

#7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Felipe Nasr, Matt Campbell, Josef Newgarden

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

#7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Felipe Nasr, Matt Campbell, Josef Newgarden

Cadillac enters the race as the clear favorite, having topped much of the practice so far and its pair of V-Series.R cars start from the front row after dominating in qualifying.

But Newgarden remains undaunted by the challenge of beating the cars run by Action Express and his IndyCar rivals Chip Ganassi Racing.

“The Cadillac looks strong, no doubt, but I would say that we feel equally prepared, if not more prepared,” he added. “We feel capable of capitalizing at the end of the race – which is what this race is going to be, right? It’s a race to the end, and then that final stint is the real race.

“It’s going to take some good thinking, good positioning until five hours to go. I think that’s the point when it’s about how you position yourself, specifically, and then it’s about how you close it out.

“I think we can close as good just as anybody right now. We’re in with a chance. I feel really confident with Porsche and Team Penske, it is just an iconic relationship. They go back so many years, it’s a dream situation to represent an iconic brand and team at this classic race.”

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