Newgarden to Start Eighth, Tagliani 24th at Indianapolis 500
The Itaipavo Sao Paulo Indy 300 circuit runs straight through the Anhembi Sambodromo where Sao Paulo hosts one of the biggest carnivals in the world, and for rookie IZOD IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden, today's race was full of incidents fit for a carnival more than a race.
On lap one, Newgarden danced the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) Dallara/Honda/Firestone car past three other cars to move from eighth to fifth. Newgarden then rose to fourth position with a pass on Graham Rahal on lap six.
The atmosphere changed from competition to carnival for Newgarden on lap 30 however when Simona de Silvestro's car made contact with the back of his car and spun him around.
"I’m not really sure what happened with Simona," Newgarden said. "I was coming through the corner, and the next thing I knew I was turned around. It was an unlucky break that set us really far back in the race, which is a real shame for the SFHR boys."
Damage to the No. 67 car was quickly repaired by the SFHR team, and Newgarden rejoined the race although he could not avoid losing a lap to race leaders. Despite the setback, Newgarden and SFHR used the rest of the race to glean new information for their street circuit program.
One thing SFHR team leaders did learn, if they didn’t already know, is that they have one fast rookie driver. After returning to the track after the accident with de Sivelstro, Newgarden used his Honda power to set a blistering pace. On lap 58, the 21-year-old driver set the fastest lap of the race – by all competitors – with a lap of 1:22.6313 seconds at 110.486 mph.
SFHR's day ended on lap 63 when Newgarden went wide in turn five and made contact with a wall.
"We learned a lot in this race, as far as strategy and learning how fuel and tires are affected throughout an entire stint," Newgarden said. "There’s a lot of valuable information we can take away from this race moving forward."
SFHR and Newgarden will take on the Indianapolis 500 next on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar series schedule. SFHR is the last IndyCar team to score a victory on an oval with their win at Kentucky Speedway last October.
"Indy’s exciting because it’s a whole month of action and you’ve got to use your time wisely," Newgarden said. "We’ll try to learn as much as we can throughout the month and come to race day with a really solid package."
Team Penske continued its domination of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series by winning Sunday’s Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 with driver Will Power. The team has won the first four races of the season.
Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay continues to run strong in 2012. He chased Power across the line for a second-place finish. It is his second straight podium finish.
Scoring the first podium finish of his IndyCar Series career was Rahal Letterman Racing’s Takuma Sato. Rounding out the top five were Castroneves and Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti.
Five caution periods allowed the yellow flag to wave for 15 laps. There were five lead changes among five drivers. Power led an impressive 63 laps.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on May 27, with Pole Day qualifying on May 19th.
Josef Newgarden will start the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 eighth on the grid Sunday, May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) driver turned a four-lap average of 229.893 mph on Sunday afternoon to position the No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone car in the middle of the third row for the start of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
“We had a great day today,” Newgarden said. “It started off well with just being in the Fast Nine Shootout, which was a big achievement for us from Saturday. We didn’t quite have enough for Pole position but we gave it everything we had, and I’m super proud of everyone at SFHR for doing that. It’s always good to start this race in clean air.”
Alex Tagliani re-qualified the No. 68 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry on Sunday morning with a four lap average speed of 229.148 mph and will start 24th in the 500-mile race on the 2.5-mile oval.
“There is some more speed in our car, we know that,” Tagliani said. “But now that qualifying is over, we will switch our gear to race mode and make sure our car is good during the race and in traffic. I want to say thanks to the boys at SFHR. They did a good job finding more speed from yesterday to today. The only thing that matters now is the race and coming up with a good plan for how we can put both of our cars up front.”
Newgarden hit over 230 mph in the first three laps of his four-lap qualifying run, before losing speed in his final lap.
“We really hung it out and gave it everything we had, but it got a little tough in that last lap,” Newgarden said. “I thought I was going to end up in the wall for a minute, but we were able to keep it on track and finish off the four-lap run. That’s how Indy qualifying should be. You should lay it all out there and give it everything you have, and that’s what we did.”
The 33 cars qualified for the Indianapolis 500 field have additional practice time from noon-5 p.m. (ET) on Monday, May 19.
“It’s actually going to be nice because now we get to put downforce back in,” Newgarden said. “It will be good to get back to race conditions where the car is a little more manageable.”
Said Alex Tagliani: “I think it’s important that we have an extra day of practice, especially with the bad weather we’ve had this past week. It will be nice to dedicate our time to race running all day tomorrow.”
Ed Carpenter won the Indianapolis 500 Pole for the second year in a row, turning a four-lap average speed of 231.067 mph. James Hinchcliffe and Will Power will join Carpenter on the front row.
To stay up to date on the latest team updates, follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram and like Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing on Facebook.
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