Team Merger Has Newgarden Jacked Up About 2015

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, August 27 2014

Josef Newgarden to drive for new team next season. (INDYCAR/LAT USA file photo)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

The open-wheel merger between Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing will feature Josef Newgarden for at least the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Newgarden, 23, will continue to drive the No. 67 Dallara fielded by SFHR next season with the rebadged CFH Racing organization, a deal which includes a second-year contract option. The merger between the teams currently fronted by owner/driver Carpenter and Fisher was announced last Saturday in Sonoma, Calif.

Competing in his third consecutive season with SFHR, Newgarden has posted two second- place finishes during his IndyCar Series career under the guidance of co-owners Fisher and Willis E. “Wink” Hartman.

“I’m really excited about the merger,” Newgarden said in a statement. “Wink and Sarah extending an offer to keep me around for another year is first and foremost. They’re the ones who gave me an opportunity to start my IndyCar career and I’m happy to continue that with them for another year. I decided to stay here because I believe in our group and everything that we’ve built and where we’re going. It’s a very strong situation that’s on the rise and I think next year is the year to capitalize on it.

“Ed (Carpenter) has been one of the biggest guys who has helped me in my career so far in IndyCar. He was one of the first to stick his hand out and lend some advice. I really believe in Ed and his group and what they’ve done. I think he will add many strengths to our unit and that we’ll be one strong entity for the whole 2015 season.”

Key details on CFH Racing’s multi-car operation – including engine manufacturer choice between Chevrolet and Honda – logo, personnel and sponsors will be released in the near future.

“Over the last three years, we have focused to build our team with Josef front-and-center, and we’re extremely excited to continue that progress into 2015,” said Fisher, a former series regular. “In working with our guys, everyone is proud to build on the continuity that it takes to be successful in an increasingly competitive Verizon IndyCar Series.

“I know how much effort Josef and our team put toward being the best and am looking forward to delivering even more tools for them to work with at CFH Racing next year.”

Newgarden’s resume with SFHR includes one second-place finish, five Firestone Fast 6 qualifying runs and three front-row starts during 2014.

“Sarah and I have the best of both worlds,” Hartman said. “Josef will be in the seat of the No. 67 car next year as we are now a two-car team. Continuing with Josef gives me great pride. He is the next star of the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

Carpenter, meanwhile, indicated he is looking forward to working with Newgarden, a native of Nashville, Tenn. Carpenter won the Indianapolis 500 pole position in 2013 and 2014 and logged a victory at Texas Motor Speedway in June.

“I’m very happy that Josef has signed with CFH Racing,” said Carpenter, who has concentrated on oval tracks this season with Mike Conway handling road/street circuits in the No. 20 Dallara. “I think Josef has shown great potential and it’s my hope that CFH Racing will help him fully reach his potential and that we can win many races together.

“I have seen Josef mature a lot over the past few years and really look forward to working with him and continuing his development. I see him as one of the premier talents in this series for the future; we’re very proud to have him on our team.”

The 2014 season will conclude with the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Saturday. The race will be televised live at 9 p.m. (EDT) by NBCSN (Local Cable providers, Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640/1640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network (Local affiliates, XM 209 and Sirius 213), the Verizon INDYCAR 14 App and www.indycar.com. ECR and SFHR will merge their organizations during the offseason.

NOLA Motorsports Park will play host to the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana as part of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, sanctioning body INDYCAR announced on Wednesday.

Organized by Andretti Sports Marketing, the event in Avondale, La., will be held April 10-12 on a newly-configured 13-turn, 2.67-mile permanent road course. The Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana will feature a three-day festival combining Louisiana’s culture _ including live musical acts, entertainment and local cuisine _ with the excitement of an IndyCar Series event.

“We’re delighted about the opportunity to showcase the Verizon IndyCar Series at NOLA Motorsports Park and to INDYCAR fans in the greater New Orleans area,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “The commitment from track owner Laney Chouest and his associates, combined with the support we received from the State of Louisiana, was the catalyst in making this come to fruition.

“New Orleans has a history of hosting successful major sporting events and we’re thrilled to be able to add the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana to the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.”

Earlier this year the State of Louisiana committed $4.5-million to make enhancements to the racetrack in support of the event. That investment, combined with private funding from NOLA Motorsports Park, accelerated required track and facility improvements necessary to host a Verizon IndyCar Series event. Improvements under way include a reconfigured course layout, which was designed in collaboration with INDYCAR officials and series drivers including James Hinchcliffe and Graham Rahal.

“I’m really excited about going to NOLA next year,” said Hinchcliffe, who drives for Andretti Autosport. “Having seen the track and the changes they’re going to make, I think it’ll be great to drive. Great for fans, too, because you can see most of the track from the stands, which is rare on road courses.

“But maybe even more than that, just going to that city is going to be a blast. They sure know how to throw a party and I know that they’re going to roll out the red carpet for INDYCAR and really make it an event.”

The complete 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule will be released later this offseason.

INDYCAR’s 2015 testing regulations for the Verizon IndyCar Series include no in-season, on-track team activity but re-introduction of Open Tests before selected races.

Provisions also have been made in the rulebook for potential Firestone tire tests, new Verizon IndyCar Series teams and first-year drivers.

Regulations apply from Aug. 31 through Sept. 20, 2015. A team is permitted a total of 14 test days, comprised of engine manufacturer tests, team tests, Open Tests and full-size wind tunnel tests. Full-season entrants are allocated a maximum of 10,000 total miles for use in all on-track activity from the first race or Open Test of 2015 to the end of the race season.

“The reason for changing the testing regulations is about trying to contain the costs and fit into our new schedule,” said Derrick Walker, INDYCAR president of competition. “Competition drives teams to test as much as they can because they’re trying to win races, but combined with the schedule it’s hard on the team members.

“Now we’re making provisions for race events to have promoter day tests, where the cars will be on the track and hopefully the promoter sees that as an opportunity to open up the stands for fans and sell race tickets.”

The first Open Test is scheduled for March 16-17, 2015, at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. It will be the initial opportunity for teams to test manufacturer road and street course aero kits to debut at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27-29.

Other Open Test venues include the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road-course, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Sonoma Raceway. Open Test days were incorporated in the 2013 testing regulations.

“Barber has a lot of fast, sweeping corners _ areas where you’ll really see the aero kits perform,” Walker said. “The teams already have data and familiarity with Barber and Firestone has great tires for that circuit. The teams can compare and relate to what they’ve done in the past while getting a handle on the aero kit.”

The 2014-15 offseason on-track testing period opens Sept. 16. Six days of manufacturer aero kit testing with selected teams will be conducted from Oct. 6 to Jan. 18, 2015. Teams will take delivery of the road and street course aero kit on March 1.

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, August 27 2014
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