Josef Newgarden: "It is a shame to have a mechanical issue; you don't want to start a season that way..."
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.- Josef Newgarden's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg ended abruptly due to clutch issues after completing 50 laps through the Streets of St. Petersburg.
Newgarden and the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) with Hartmoor Polo Water Dallara/Honda/Firestone car started the season-opening IZOD IndyCar Series race from 16th.
His pace remained steady as he reached a race-high of 12th place. While running 12th on lap 51, Newgarden radioed the crew and informed them the clutch wasn't engaging.
He returned to the pits with the No. 67 machine after receiving assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team.
Once back in the pit box, SFHR confirmed Newgarden's clutch diagnosis. The team attempted to put the car into gear manually, but failed.
Shortly after the track went back to green on lap 55 (of 110), Newgarden and the No. 67 SFHR team officially retired from the race. He ended the day in 23rd position.
"It was difficult to have a result like today because I think we had a great race car," Newgarden said. "We were trying to take our time, work at a steady pace and let the race come to us. The clutch problem happened pretty early in the race, only about halfway.
It is a shame to have a mechanical issue; you don't want to start a season that way. We'll be back stronger next race. We learned a lot this weekend that we can apply to the next race and the season."
James Hinchcliffe earned his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday. Hinchcliffe rolled down the pits with a fist pump as Newgarden cheered his fellow driver and friend from the SFHR pit box.
Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti followed Hinchcliffe to the checkered flag for the remaining two spots on the podium. Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon rounded out the top five finishers.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing