Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing turned a bad car to a good one, until the rookie's ill-advised passing attempt turned it into a pile of broken parts
Rookie Josef Newgarden finished 19th in the Iowa Corn Indy 250, but he picked up a valuable lesson in turning an ill-handling race car into a competitive one with the help of his team along the way.
At the start of the race Newgarden’s No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) Dallara/Honda/Firestone car suffered from understeer and adverse affects from tire wear.
Newgarden held on to the car however and made it to his first pit stop window, which allowed the SFHR crew to make helpful adjustments.
Once he was back out on the track for his second stint, Newgarden found that his car was vastly improved. Running in the top ten, he began picking off cars one by one with competitive lap times.
“We were letting the race come to us,” Newgarden said.
Unfortunately, on lap 178 he entered turn two to make a pass on then-leader Ryan Briscoe, and neither car made it out of the turn. The cars made contact and spun into the turn two wall.
“Ryan had been working the middle lane of the track for several laps,” Newgarden said. “That’s what you look at when you come up on someone to make a pass. When we entered the corner, he started coming lower and lower. I tried to go as low as I could to avoid contact. The last thing you want to do is ball up a car because there’s no reason to do that.”
Newgarden was especially disappointed with the incident because it stopped the momentum his car had been gaining as the race wore on.
“We struggled early from tire wear dropping off, but the car was really coming to us,” he said. “We were working on it and trying to maximize the car in longer stints. The car was just getting right where it needed to be when the incident happened.”
Despite his finish, Newgarden remains positive about Iowa Speedway and the many fans that came to watch the IZOD IndyCar Series put on a show.
“I like this place a lot and it has great fans,” he said. “It was just a shame not to finish the race.”