Carpenter “doing everything” to keep Newgarden
Team owner Ed Carpenter describes retaining Josef Newgarden as his “Plan A” for 2017 as rumors continue to surround the 25-year-old from Tennessee.
Newgarden, who has scored three wins with Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet over the past two seasons, is known to be out of contract, and is believed to have had recent talks with both Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing.
However, Carpenter says retaining his ace – who currently lies fifth in the championship, and has a strong chance of finishing the season in third – has become a priority.
He told Motorsport.com: “We’ve started the process of talking about next year. I think we’ve done a good job and will continue to do a good job and get better as we have every year so far.
“Where Josef is going is next year is a topic that’s getting a lot of talk but we’re doing everything we can do to make a good offer to him and make a good case for him staying here.
“Ultimately you can’t control exactly how it’s going to play out and obviously there’s a lot of unknowns. So we’re just gonna have to do what we do and play the game and see how it all shakes out.
Asked if either he or Newgarden is finding the rumors and speculative future plans a distraction, Carpenter said: “I can’t speak for Josef, but from my point of view he’s continuing to do a good job. And from the way we’re dealing with it, along with the rest of his [management] group, I don’t feel like there’s much pressure.
“We’ve had good conversations, we know where each other is on everything and we’ll go through the rest of the process and hopefully have an answer to the whole issue sooner rather than later. But it’s no different from how it was last year, to be honest.”
Replacement options not being considered yet
Not only has Newgarden impressed over the past two seasons, Ed Carpenter Racing has become recognized as a strong force within the Verizon IndyCar Series, arguably offering the most desirable seat outside of Penske and Ganassi. Carpenter was staying coy about which drivers have contacted him as a potential replacement/teammate for Newgarden in 2017, but he emphasized again that the priority was keeping his star in the lineup……
“There’s so much talk about what Josef’s doing, what Juan [Montoya] is doing and [Sebastien] Bourdais is in the mix now. You get a lot of calls from people throwing their name in the hat.
“But it’s one of those situations where we’ll focus on getting something done with Josef until I know that’s done one way or the other. If he decides to move on, then we’ll look at our options but he is Plan A. And it’s hard to work on Plan B until we know what happens with Plan A.”
Carpenter admitted it was inevitable that Newgarden would attract the attention from rival teams, but says the ‘problem’ extends through all levels of personnel within ECR.
“We’ve had teams try to hire people from our team, whether it’s drivers, engineers, mechanics… It’s part of the business. When you do a good job and get results, others are going to look at what you’re doing right and try to get a piece of it, which includes taking away your best guys.
“It can be frustrating, because you want to keep building and maintain continuity within the team but it’s also telling us we’re doing something right. And I think we are, I think Josef is, and so we’ll do everything we can to keep the unit together – and obviously that includes Josef.”
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