Josef Newgarden

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Josef Newgarden was the toast of his hometown on Tuesday, returning as the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and celebrating in true sporting style.

Josef Newgarden and Roman JosiThe Team Penske driver visited Bridgestone Tower, the new downtown Nashville corporate headquarters for Bridgestone Americas. Among those Newgarden visited while there were members of the Firestone Racing team that serves as the exclusive tire supplier to the Verizon IndyCar Series.

From there, it was on to the aptly named Bridgestone Arena, where Newgarden took in the National Hockey League game between the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers. Before the contest, Newgarden met with Predators defenseman and team captain Roman Josi. Newgarden presented Josi with a race helmet in exchange for a Predators jersey with Newgarden’s name and 2017 car number emblazoned on the back.

Newgarden proudly wore the jersey that evening, when he participated in the traditional pregame celebrity towel wave to fire up the crowd. Newgarden waved two towels and the Preds responded with two first-period goals that led them to a 2-1 victory.

“Two goals, two towels … coincidence? I think not,” Newgarden said after the game. “It’s great to see these guys get a victory tonight. … More importantly, it’s going to be exciting to see what they do going into hopefully the playoffs and having another run at a championship.”

Newgarden resides now near Team Penske’s base in Mooresville, North Carolina, so his time is limited in his Tennessee hometown. He was glad to have the opportunity to return.

“It was good to spend multiple days in Nashville,” he said. “Normally when I’m in town, I’m in and out, so to spend some more time here and meet some new people – and especially spend time with the Predators and see Roman again, it was a complete blast.

“It’s fun to see family, fun to see my roots, and I’m going to make a point to try and be in Nashville more often in the future.”

Watch Newgarden’s enthuaistic rally towel wave here, courtesy of @PredsMaverick: