Josef Newgarden WHT event notes

NEWGARDEN'S NATIONAL MOTORSPORTS COLLEGE TEAM FINISHS SIXTH IN WALTER HAYES TROPHY American delivers another impressive performance in the prestigious Formula Ford event SILVERSTONE, ENGLAND (November 6, 2009) -- American Josef Newgarden ...

American delivers another impressive performance in the prestigious Formula Ford event

SILVERSTONE, ENGLAND (November 6, 2009) -- American Josef Newgarden ended his inaugural season of junior formula car racing in Europe last weekend (October 31-November 1). Delivering another strong performance behind the wheel of a Formula Ford 1600 in England, the talented young driver piloted a 17 year-old Van Deimen owned by Cranfield University and crewed by local Motorsports College students, showing both the skill and speed of a future champion, scoring an impressive sixth place result in the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy at the famed Silverstone Circuit.

Newgarden, having only ended his rookie campaign in the MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain -- finishing second in the championship fight with a series-high nine race wins -- a few weeks earlier, returned to the cockpit of a traditional Kent-powered Formula Ford for the annual Walter Hayes Trophy. For Newgarden, the year-end non-points event not only marked an opportunity to go head-to-head against over 100 of the best FF1600 drivers from England and the surrounding area, it also provided a chance to once again work with his Joe Tandy Racing engineer Guy McCulloch, who is a professor of engineering at the Motorsports College.

Piloting the No. 121 Cranfield University / National College of Motorsport Van Diemen RF92, Newgarden commenced his pursuit of a WHT win on Saturday morning, with the talented American taking to the high-speed Silverstone National Circuit for his lone qualifying session. In less than ideal wet conditions, Newgarden promptly displayed his intentions to challenge for top honors, earning pole position for Heat Two by over a two-second margin.

When lights went out for the eight-lap Heat race, also run in wet conditions, it initially appeared as though the 18 year-old would continue his fine run of form, battling for the lead. Things quickly changed however, when Newgarden began experiencing gearbox problems early in the run. Midway through lap two things went from bad to worse, as Newgarden and second place experienced a synchronized spin in Lovefield, creating a forty second gap to the lead pack while the marshals assisted him out of the gravel. As a result, the former Team USA Scholarship driver was classified 15th at the conclusion of his Heat race, forcing Newgarden into Sunday morning's Last Chance race in order to qualify for one of the Semi-Final events.

Returning to the "Home of British Motorsports" one day later, Newgarden and the rest of the Walter Hayes competitors were greeted with monsoon like wet, windy and cold conditions. After a lengthy weather delay, Newgarden starting from the 23rd position rose to the challenge, turning in a superb performance in the Last Chance race, which saw him advance to the lead by the end of lap one. Finishing with a convincing win, Newgarden secured a 34th place starting position in the first of two Semi Final races.

With virtually no time to prepare, Newgarden lined up for his Semi-Final race just 10 minutes later, this time starting on the second to last row in 34th place. With the track still wet, but now beginning to dry, Newgarden knew the competition in this run would be tougher than the Last Chance race and moving up to the 18th position just to earn a starting spot on the back row of the final would not be enough to give him a chance to win the Walter Hayes Trophy. Determined to put himself in a competitive position for the main event, Newgarden got another great start and steadily moved forward throughout the Semi-Final race. With only 12 laps to work with, he found himself in fifth place when the checkered flag waived. The strong finish placed the young American on row five -- 10th place - for the final, and in his mind a real possibility of winning it all.

By the time cars lined up for the Final, the sun was dropping low in the sky and the track had virtually dried. This was the event that over 100 competitors had spent two days fighting over to earn a place on the 36-car grid. Newgarden lined up on row five, and this time would be able to see the front-runners at the start of the race. With the students from the National Motorsports College having provided him with a superb handling car, the Racer of Tomorrow backed driver had been hoping for wet conditions in Final, but running the bright red college crewed 17 year-old Van Deimen in what ever situation was necessary was what Newgarden was determined to do.

When the lights went out at the start of the 15-lap feature race, Newgarden delivered another strong start, moving forward early on, narrowly missing the flying car of Team USA's Brett Smrz on the second lap. As the race unfolded, Newgarden found himself in sixth just past the halfway point, with the lead pack of five dicing it out just three seconds ahead. It was the best seat in the house to watch Team USA Scholarship driver and friend Connor De Phillippi fight for the win.

In the end, Newgarden couldn't close the gap to the lead pack, and after losing his engine cover with just three laps to go, he had all he could handle, fighting off the advances of the two cars behind him, bringing home the National Motorsports College car to an impressive sixth place finish.

"I had a lot of fun and I was very impressed with the National Motorsports College car and crew," stated Newgarden. "Everyone on the team did a great job all weekend long, but at the end of the day I just don't think we had the motor to run with the faster guys in the dry. I really thought we had a shot at it in the wet but when the race went dry, I still ran this old race car for everything it was worth. It was really cool running a 17 year-old Van Deimen and my crew of guys definitely got it handling great, especially in the wet!"

Newgarden currently remains in England, continuing his physical training program from his Oxford base of operations. During the next month, he will be testing with as many Formula Three teams as possible to secure the best opportunity for the 2010 season. An official announcement regarding Newgarden's plans for next season is not expected until after the Holiday break.

-credit: jn

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Josef Newgarden , Brett Smrz