Season Review: Josef Newgarden

In a series of blogs that will be featured throughout the offseason, I review and talk about 21 full-time drivers in addition to extended part time drivers (Carpenter and Conway) in an honest and opinionated format. I would ask you to share your opinions on my thoughts as well as your thoughts on the driver and their season. Enjoy:

Josef Newgarden
#67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing

13th in points scoring 406 points

Best finish: 2nd (Iowa)
Worst finish: 30th (Indianapolis)

Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Avg. Start: 10.8
Avg. Finish: 13.7
Change in position: -53

Grade: B

Josef Newgarden continues to show us that he can accomplish great things in this series. To be honest and frank, the two things that held him back from winning a race in 2014 were Ryan Hunter-Reay being a bit of a knucklehead in Long Beach and his team (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing) letting him down on multiple occasions (this was highlighted by a pit blunder of epic proportions at Mid-Ohio).

Josef achieved the same average finishing position as he did in 2013, but he finished one place higher in the championship in 2014 and his average starting position saw a sharp turnaround from 17.5 in 2013 to 10.8 in 2014. If he can keep up the positive momentum in qualifying and find ways to finish around the top-five, Josef will be more than ready to make the jump into champion contention.

Josef also gets the benefit of this foreign concept to his time in Indycar: a teammate. Outside of the 2012 and 2014 Indianapolis 500s (Bryan Clauson, a rookie in 2012, and veteran Alex Tagliani in 2014), Josef has never had a teammate in Indycar. Having a teammate that can provide valuable feedback about the setups of the car and the way it handles is huge for the team as a whole. In the past, Josef was on his own. If he were a veteran of the series, this may not have been that big of a deal. But Josef was doing all of the setups on his own the first three years of his Indycar career, which is simply astonishing given what he and the team accomplished over that time. In 2015, the newly formed Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing will see Josef paired with oval ace and co-owner Ed Carpenter, and road course stud and GP2 race winner and part-time Indycar guy Luca Filippi.

One place I'd like to see Josef improve at is Indianapolis. He's always shown great pace there during time trials and qualifying, but when it came to the race, something goes wrong or he gets put into a poor position to compete. Other than that, I am proud to say that I am a big fan of Josef. It's hard to remain bias of this guy, as he's a pure delight to talk to in person and a guy that I want to see succeed. One of my life highlights was meeting him at Iowa, and then seeing him drive on to a P2 finish that same weekend. What a joy it was. Wish him nothing but the best in his 2015 season. Hopefully it's his best yet.

Josef Newgarden - Iowa Corn Indy 300: Day 1
Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt / Getty Images North America)

2014 grades so far:
Sebastian Saavedra - F

Stay tuned for P12 James Hinchcliffe!

-Matthew Hickey