Third year Indycar driver and 2011 Firestone Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden has gotten off to a great start this season. After qualifying dead last for the first round, I thought, "here we go again." Last year, Newgarden struggled with qualifying, often starting most of the races in the last couple rows. Despite this, he showed great pace at several races, including Sao Paulo and Baltimore. If only he could qualify better...
Fast forward to the race in St. Petersburg. Many drivers are being highlighted in the race, especially Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, and Tony Kanaan. While the big guns were fighting up front, Newgarden was quietly sneaking up the field, finishing the race in P9. It was a great start to the season for the driver of one car team Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
Now, let's move to Long Beach. Newgarden has some memorable moments there, especially in 2012. He got moved to the front row for the start of the race after every Chevrolet car replaced their engine. Newgarden started outside of Dario Franchitti. Heading into turn one after the green flag, Newgarden saw a chance to take the lead. He dove in on the outside of Dario and looked to have the move complete, but Dario made slight contact with Josef, sending Josef into the wall, ending his race after one turn. No real fault can be put on either driver, as it was a racing incident. This showed not only Josef's will to win, but also his guts to go for the pass.
Back to 2014. Newgarden had been having a strong weekend at the Beach, qualifying P4 for the race. After being quick all race, Newgarden cycled into the lead of the race with just over two-thirds of the race being complete. On cold tires, Newgarden was holding off an impatient Ryan Hunter-Reay. Hunter-Reay attempted a bold move on the inside of a turn which you don't see too many passes. Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, and several others had their races come to an end.
|Josef Newgarden this past weekend at Long Beach (Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America)|
Despite the wreck, which was in now way Newgarden's fualt, everyone is starting to see what Josef is capable of. Despite some flashes of brilliance in his first two seasons, Josef has not shown the consistency that many would like to see in order to move up hierarchy of drivers in Indycar. Make no mistake about it, Josef is a great driver. The results might not be there, but man is he quick. And at only 23 years of age, he will be around fora long time.
You have to think that Josef is also motivated to perform well in the final year of his three year deal with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. While I can definitely see him returning to the Indianapolis based outfit, I also see a chance for him to move on. Where and when is beyond me. Team Penske would be a opportune option for him, as well as other teams.
Watch out for some more speed from Newgarden this year.
Let me know what you think!