Once they’ve gotten through Thanksgiving and awoken from their turkey comas, Team Penske’s Will Power and Josef Newgarden will turn their attention to something fun and slightly daunting as the NTT IndyCar Series teammates head to Las Vegas for next week’s Supernationals karting event.
The world-famous gathering draws the hottest young karters and some of the sport’s biggest stars — seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher competed in the 2009 edition — take part in the multitude of classes and age groups.
For Power, IndyCar’s most active karter who also sells his own line of karts, the Supernationals are nothing new. Newgarden, on the other hand, is prepared for plenty of surprises at the fiercely competitive event.
“I’m very excited to go to Vegas and I’ve never been to the Supernats,” the two-time IndyCar champion told RACER. “I’ve always heard about it, but I haven’t been in a professional kart race, I guess you’d call it, in seven, eight years; maybe longer. So I did a warm-up race in Charlotte at GoPro Motorplex, and that was a bit of a wake-up call.
“I showed up late because I was testing in Mid-Ohio the Thursday before, so I showed up Friday morning and did not realize how substantial of an advantage they had and I was really kind of shocked by the enormity of it, but it was great fun. It really re-ignited my enthusiasm to go kart racing and do it well. And there’s no one better to experience that enthusiasm with than Will Power right now.”
Power and Newgarden will be thrown in among the young lions who hope to reach IndyCar or Formula 1 in the coming years.
“I did the Supernats in 2019 in the Masters class, which is for people 30 and over, so this year we’re gonna do Senior, which is the X30 Pro class, 80 karters in that class,” Power said. “The ages are 15 and up, and it’s going to be mostly 15-year-old kids that are just next-level. A couple of karting world champs are gonna be racing. Best people from around the world are running this event. We’re both gonna have a tough time. There’s no question.”
The presence of an Indy 500 winner and IndyCar champion in Power, and a double IndyCar title winner in Newgarden could make for some aggressive driving as humbling the Penske drivers would only add to the reputations of the rising karters in the field. Newgarden isn’t ready to fully concede the fact that a beatdown is coming his way, but he’s also prepared to accept whatever fate comes his way during the December 1-5 contest.
“Well, we were competitors — we love racing, and Will has gotten so involved in the karting community over the last number of years. We really want to go there and have a good time but I know Will’s very serious about trying to win,” Newgarden said.
“I’m kind of just tagging along with him, if you will; he’s really put in all the work, and hopefully I can be in position to help celebrate with him in some way. It’s a big challenge. It’s certainly something that you can’t just pop back into any day of the week, having been out of it for multiple years, and expect to win.
“And if I was a smarter driver, I definitely would have put in more test time before committing to this Supernats event! I’m gonna have a whopping three days in a car under my belt before I show up to Vegas. So it is a tall order, for sure to jump into this competitive field and expect you know top results. I know Will’s been training for it and really wants to win. But I’m a race car driver and I want to find success. I’m looking at this year more as a learning year and exploration year and then maybe I can come back next season and maybe do it a little bit better if I don’t do well this time around.”