The 2019 NTT IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden says his second championship title in the series feels more special than his first in 2017.
Newgarden crossed the line in eighth place on Sunday at Laguna Seca, which was enough to secure the championship as teammate Simon Pagenaud's late charge failed to see him take the win that he needed for championship success.
With his family and friends in attendance at the weekend, Newgarden says he is not sure why he became emotional when he returned to the pit lane at the end of the 90-lap race.
"I don't know why, but it feels more special," said the 28-year-old. "It really hit me. It just really, really hit me on the in-lap. I don't know why. I was just so emotional. I didn't quite get that way in the first one. I don't know if you don't have quite the respect for it.
"You just have more perspective on how difficult it is to be. You can win a race every week. When you're in a season, those opportunities come every single week, but to win a championship, that doesn't come every week.
"That opportunity seldom is there and if it is there, you really want to capitalize on it because you never know if you're going to get that again. I think you really realize that the more years you do this."
Despite missing out on his second IndyCar championship title, Pagenaud affirmed that he was happy for his Team Penske teammate Newgardem.
"I tried as hard as I could all weekend," stated the Frenchman. "You saw me drive with my heart. I won Indianapolis this year. There's nothing to be disappointed about.
"We finished second. That's the second time we're second in the championship. We won the championship in 2016. I think the numbers talk for themselves. Do I want to win the championship?
"Of course. But I'm just equally happy for Josef and the whole team, to wrap up the Indy 500 and the championship in one year is just absolutely incredible. I had a blast. I had a blast today."