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Pre-Long Beach, Newgarden visits Detroit to throw out first pitch

Phoenix International Raceway - Day 1

AVONDALE, AZ - APRIL 01: Josef Newgarden, driver of the #21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar prepares for qualifying to the Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway on April 1, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Josef Newgarden usually goes the extra mile to help promote the Verizon IndyCar Series and its events, and the Tennessee native was busy doing the promotional work today ahead of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans weekend June 3-5.

The driver of the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing made the rounds on local TV stations in the morning, then headed to Comerica Park to fulfill a childhood dream.

Here was Newgarden’s first pitch ahead of the Detroit Tigers hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Newgarden one-hopped it home, and got a bit of good natured ribbing from Jimmy Vasser.

He recovered to sixth at Phoenix last race, despite getting hit by Charlie Kimball at Turn 1 following a restart.

Now he heads to Long Beach (Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), one of his favorite races on the calendar - and traditionally one where he qualifies well.

He was seventh on the grid in 2012 but bumped up to second following five Chevrolet cars incurring 10-spot grid penalties for engine changes. A bold but aggressive move to polesitter Dario Franchitti’s outside at Turn 1 that year left him in the wall and out of the race.

He qualified fourth in 2014 and had arguably his best weekend in IndyCar to date before he got taken out in Ryan Hunter-Reay’s aggressive move at Turn 4, then driving for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. Incidentally, Ed Carpenter Racing won that day with Mike Conway delivering the team’s first road or street race win.

Last year, he finally got a result at Long Beach, starting sixth and finishing seventh.

“I can’t wait to get to Long Beach! It’s one of the most exciting events of the year,” Newgarden said in the team’s media advance release.

“As a street course, it’s very thrilling and it has an amazing atmosphere. It’s definitely one of the tracks I feel like we’ve always been fast at, just not quite able to seal the deal from a results standpoint.

“The last couple of years we’ve been close, fighting within the top five but not able to get to the podium. Hopefully we can turn that around this year with the Fuzzy’s car and get on to the podium or even to victory lane!”

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