Newgarden Concludes Very Successful Team USA Scholarship Tenure. Looks Forward to '09.
NORTHAMPTONSHIRE -- Josef Newgarden won a heat race, a semi-final and started on the outside front row for the Walter Hayes Trophy, the second jewel in international Formula Ford competition on the National Circuit at Silverstone. From the start, Newgarden led away, opening a 1.5-second gap over the best 36 Formula Ford racers in the world. Looking set to match his historic victory a fortnight before at Brands Hatch in the Formula Ford Festival, Newgarden's excellent adventure took an unfortunate turn.
"Up until the last 12 laps of this past two weeks, we were the guys to beat," said a very satisfied Newgarden referring to both himself and Team USA Scholarship teammate Conor Daly who went on to take the win in the Walter Hayes Trophy Finale. "Of course, I'm disappointed to have gone that far in all the events and not come out with the win in the final, but overall, I have to say the complete experience has been really satisfying."
With the 2008 season wrapped up as the first American to win the Formula Ford Festival and a second place finish in the Skip Barber National Championship Series, Newgarden now looks to 2009. While he completes his senior year of high school through the University of Miami online program, Newgarden, with the support of various professional resources, is focusing on acquiring the commercial backing required for gaining a competitive seat next year. In what series Newgarden will be racing next year is yet to be determined, but a number of options are being assessed.
On lap 3 of the Walter Hayes finale, heading into the Brooklands corner, with his lead growing, he misjudged his braking point on a very wet track, and was forced to take a trip through the gravel trap. Amazingly, he made it through the sodden field of pebbles, unlike most of the other drivers who ended up beached then and there throughout the weekend. Newgarden rejoined in 30th position and battled valiantly, up to 14th position when the checkered flag flew.
Despite the misstep, there was little to rue. Consistently throughout both the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy, Newgarden firmly established himself as the benchmark having dominated much of the proceedings.
"Because my semi-final heat was run in worse conditions than the other, our overall time was slower, and that's why I ended up on outside pole. Going into the finale, the rain had stopped, but the track was quite wet. Still our speeds were up considerably from the previous race and as I was pulling away from the field, I entered Brooklands faster than I think I had all day, and I just misjudged the braking," said Newgarden of his only error over numerous races run at both Brands and Silverstone.
Besides the Formula Ford Festival win and the numerous heat race victories, what does Newgarden take away from his Team USA Scholarship experience?
"It was the opportunity of a lifetime for which I am so grateful to Jeremy Shaw and all the supporters of the Team USA Scholarship. To be able to go to England and showcase our skills in front of so many influential people wouldn't have been possible without this program. As a result, I've proven to myself and to others that I can compete with the best and win. It's so important to know that I can continually step out of comfort zones, from karting to the Skip Barber Series now to this and still produce the results that I expect of myself. It's a huge boost for sure."