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Josef Newgarden pays it forward by helping a stranger, then eating Chipotle

May 22, 2014, 6:45 PM EST

JosefPayItForward Getty Images

If you’ve followed some of our more off-beat Verizon IndyCar Series coverage over the last year or so, you’ll know we’ve hit two key items of Josef Newgarden’s life that don’t revolve around his day job piloting the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda.

The first is that he saved a kitten in Baltimore last year (which he eventually adopted), and promptly secured his first career series podium later that weekend.

The second is that he loves Chipotle, despite a brief flirtation with Mo’s.

Anyway while Newgarden was en route for some Chipotle on Wednesday night, an off day with no track activity in the run up to Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, he ran across someone who needed help.

He then posted this photo to his Instagram page, with this description beneath it.

Today I want to post something a little different. I’ve been wanting to start a project for a little while now that I think is cool and means something to me. I met a new friend tonight by the name of Kevin Bruce. He’s 23 like me, loves sports (including IndyCar), admires comedians, and considers kindness one of his favorite things in life. I saw Kevin sitting outside in the rain asking for a bit of help and needing dinner. I was on my way to Chipotle to grab a quick bite and just thought it would be great to bring Kevin along. Nothing outlandish, just a nice meal out of the rain with a simple conversation to pass the time. I think being able to help your fellow human in this world, no matter how big or small the gesture, is so important, and keeping it at the forefront of your thoughts everyday should be a goal. I call this project #TodayIHelped and I hope you all find it fun to tag along with me and join in. PS. If you find Kevin in the streets of Indy and have a job opportunity available, please consider him. You never know who just might surprise you!

So here’s Newgarden, 23, meeting a fellow 23-year-old and paying it forward with a random act of kindness.

Newgarden described how this all went down during Thursday’s media day at IMS.

“It was super spontaneous,” he said. “I wanted to do something like that for a while. I wasn’t thinking ahead so much, but maybe wanted to start a project that would become cool. Post something about helping other people and telling their story.

“There’s not enough trendy, cool stuff on social media, of helping others,” said Newgarden, who is renowned in the IndyCar paddock for his social media savvy. “You have to make something cool to stand out, and one to do that is to ideally have people do a small gesture for others.”

This wasn’t planned – it just happened when Newgarden was heading for Chipotle.

“I saw him when I was rolling downtown to get Chipotle. He had a cardboard sign saying need ‘help, super hungry,’ and I got the place to go eat. We ate dinner together. He’s a pretty cool guy.”

Down the road, depending on how many of these stories Newgarden tells, he’s hoping to eventually put a website together and group the stories with that #TodayIHelped hashtag.

As for the cat? Newgarden said he might need company in the pet department.

“I’ve rescued a cat… so I need a dog to balance it out,” Newgarden said. “I’m the cat guy now. Got a little experience.”

In terms of his day job, Newgarden rolls off eighth for Sunday’s 98th Indianapolis 500.

  1. techmeister1 - May 22, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    It’s so sad that anyone living in the U.S. today is in this situation but there are tens of thousands of people in bad shape like this. Hopefully more random acts of kindness and sanity will break out and this country will rebound from such terrible shape that it is in for many who were thrown into situations they didn’t deserve.

  2. ttnvrl8 - May 23, 2014 at 1:15 AM

    It’s great to see kids like Newgarden show genuine care and involvement in his surroundings. His generation frequently gets bashed for their self-indulgence.

    On a different note, if anyone were to see Chipotle on the side of Newgarden’s car soon, would anyone think “Happy Gilmore?”

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