In the birthplace of the legendary racing driver Ayrton Senna lies an 11-turn temporary street circuit that hosted Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) and the rest of the IZOD IndyCar Series today. The 2.535-mile asphalt and concrete track for the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 bumps and bruises more than just about any course on the series calendar and two things are needed to survive – patience and time.
Starting dead last today in 25th position as a result of a penalty extended for an engine change, Nashville-resident Josef Newgarden and his team thought they might have to count on healthy doses of patience and time as their only strategy. But a record number of cautions at the São Paulo circuit gave the Speedway, Ind.-based team the opportunity they needed to get Newgarden the best finish of his brief IZOD IndyCar Series career.
“I thought we had a really strong race and a top-five is really good going into Indy,” said Newgarden. “Given where we started, that’s exactly what we wanted to do, score solid points and get some momentum going into the 500. I think we’ve absolutely done that.”
A late-race charge by Newgarden after a restart put him in position to battle for the lead. The 22-year-old racer made several attempts to put his Honda-powered Dallara chassis on point, but he ultimately yielded to James Hinchcliffe, the eventual winner. Newgarden hung on to his fading tires to squeeze out a fifth-place finish for his SFHR team to take back to their new racing headquarters in Indiana.
“It was a little bit of a disappointment,” Newgarden said. “I think we had a better car than fifth. You have to take what you can sometimes. We’re really pleased at all of the hard work that gets put in from everyone here. It’s good to get representative results. We’ll try to take that momentum and do well at the 500.”
The SFHR team heads home to Speedway for a short walk from the race shop to the 97th Indianapolis 500 where Newgarden put the No. 67 in a seventh-place starting position last year. To get the latest news from SFHR, follow @SFHRindy on Twitter.