Column: IndyCar needs to push Newgarden as its new star

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) It has been five years since IndyCar last had an American champion as the face of the series. This time, the series is far better positioned to properly wield its newest asset.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was largely ignored after his 2012 title, lost in the shuffle as IndyCar went through a tumultuous leadership change. With a stronger infrastructure and the power of the Penske brand, IndyCar has a shot to really push new champion Josef Newgarden to its audience.

Newgarden, in his first season driving for Roger Penske, won his first IndyCar title on Sunday with a steely showing at Sonoma Raceway. He's only the third American series champion in the last 11 years. At just 26 years old, the Tennessee native is the youngest champion since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2002.

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IndyCar Leaders: Points
RankDriverPointsWins
1 J.Newgarden 642 4
2 S.Pagenaud 629 2
3 S.Dixon 621 1
4 H.Castroneves 598 1
5 W.Power 562 3
6 G.Rahal 522 2
7 A.Rossi 494 1
8 T.Sato 441 1
9 R.Hunter-Reay 421 0
10 T.Kanaan 403 0
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