Many people consider the third time to be the charm. Count Josef Newgarden among them.

The Team Penske driver is hoping to find victory lane this afternoon on the historic streets of Long Beach. Newgarden has three podium finishes in his nine career starts but has never stood on the top step. He has been incredibly close in the last two trips here, finishing runner-up both times.

Newgarden has led laps in the last three Long Beach races, and earned pole position for last year's event. He has finished behind the race-winning cars of Andretti Autosport each of the last two years, something he aims to change today.

Those two Andretti wins went to Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta. Oddly enough, Newgarden starts alongside Herta on the front row today.

Six-time series champion Scott Dixon has won here. Two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato won this race in 2013. Newgarden's former teammate Simon Pagenaud has a Long Beach win on his resume as well. His current teammate Will Power has two Long Beach wins, as does Rossi.

Every driver wants to add their name to the long list of winners of this iconic event. The Indy 500 is obviously at the top of everyone's list, but most have Long Beach right behind that.

While Newgarden has two series championships to his name, the driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet has not been able to win either of the two most prestigious events on the calendar. Long Beach and IMS are two of the five venues on the 2022 schedule where he has never won. His resume is impressive, but it lacks a “crown jewel” victory.

A trophy is the goal for Newgarden today, but getting one at Long Beach would seem to be a little more special. “I would love a trophy,” he said. “I think it would be great. They’re all beautiful and special. I guess they’re like children. You don’t choose a favorite. They’re all special. I would love it. It would be great. Long Beach is an awesome place.”

“I would like to get a win there,” Newgarden continued. “We've been close before, so we've just got to figure out how to close the deal. That's as simple as that. If we have a weak place, we're going to make it a strong place, and I feel like Long Beach has been getting there slowly for us. It's definitely become a strength, and we just need a little bit more to close the deal and feel like we can do that this weekend.”

The good news for Newgarden is that things are much different this year. The team is performing much better this season, after going winless in the first eight races a year ago. In fact, the team is undefeated heading into this event, with Scott McLaughlin winning the season-opening race at St Petersburg, and Newgarden beating him to the line in a thrilling photo finish at Texas.

A third consecutive race win sounds incredibly rare, but Penske has actually done it seven times since the start of the 2016 season. They are qualifying at the front of the field and they clearly have the pace that they were lacking last year. They have also won five of the last 11 street course races.

As good as Penske has been through the first two races, Newgarden knows it is way too early to label them as the team to beat. "It's a good start, but that's never the norm for the rest of the year. We don't know what the middle of the season or the end of the season is going to bring, so we're just trying to stay ready and focused on the next race.”

This is the 38th race for IndyCar but the 46th open wheel race on the street circuit. The roots of this event trace back to Formula One in 1976. Mario Andretti went to victory lane the following year. Other legends have followed suit, including Gilles Villeneuve, Nelson Piquet, Niki Lauda, Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr, Danny Sullivan, Paul Tracy, Alex Zanardi, Juan Montoya, and Sebastien Bourdais. Now Newgarden has the opportunity to complete some unfinished business.

It is important to point out that Penske has only won twice at Long Beach since 2001. Power was victorious in 2012 and Pagenaud's win in 2016 is their last trip to victory lane. The team hasn't necessarily struggled at the street circuit, but Newgarden admits it has become a focus for the organization.

"If we have a weak place, we're going to make it a strong place," Newgarden said. "I feel like Long Beach has been getting there slowly for us. It's definitely become a strength, and we just need a little bit more to close the deal and feel like we can do that this weekend."

Newgarden has finished 2nd in the last two races here. The driver of the No. 2 car starts 2nd today. Those are some interesting coincidences for the driver aiming to finally get to that top step on the podium. A win this afternoon will give he and the team all the momentum heading into the next race, which is technically in the Month of May.

“I think for Long Beach we definitely have good momentum, but that shifts so quickly in this sport,” Newgarden said. “We're just going to stay focused on the task and hopefully we can keep it up. Especially as we get into the month of May where it's most important to carry some momentum."