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Looking for Luck (Even if You Don’t Believe in It)

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When the IZOD IndyCar Series stables its high-powered horses in Texas this weekend for the Firestone 550, Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) will be working to turn the tables on a string of unfortunate events that has kept the team from a high finish the past two weekends.

SFHR and Newgarden come to Texas after a 15th-place finish last weekend at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. After sustaining a punctured tire from the deteriorating track surface Newgarden was knocked off of his fuel strategy. Then the No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone car was hit from behind and spun near the end of the race by Simona de Silvestro.

Two weeks ago at the famed Indianapolis 500 Newgarden qualified seventh, making him the highest qualifying rookie since 2005 when Danica Patrick qualified fourth for her debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unfortunately the No. 67 car wouldn’t catch gear on its first pit stop and Newgarden fell a lap down early on.

After fighting back the entire afternoon Newgarden found himself back on the lead lap within the final half of the 500-mile race only to have his car role to a stop with no power on the backstretch on Lap 161.

Newgarden is not worried about the bad luck sticking around for long, however.

“I’m not superstitious, and I try really hard not to be,” he said. “I think luck in racing is all a cycle. You have to let it play out and it will turn around and come back to your favor. You just have to be patient.”

Looking to the Firestone 550 at TMS, Newgarden is eager to put the lessons he learned at his IZOD IndyCar Series oval test at TMS in early May to use in race conditions.

“I think it’s going to be difficult to run flat throughout the entire race because of the mandated wing settings from INDYCAR,” Newgarden said. “That will be a challenge for everybody, including the veterans, this weekend.”

In recent years IZOD IndyCar Series action at Texas Motor Speedway has been marked by nail-biting pack racing where a fraction of an error from any driver had magnified consequences.

The 2012 Firestone 550 presents a question mark however because teams and drivers are unsure of what to expect from the new cars during race conditions. Similar to every other track on the this year’s IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, Texas provides a whole new list of unknowns since having no data from the past forces guesswork from drivers and engineers.

“We’ll have to wait and see what the new car does to pack racing at Texas,” Newgarden said. “I think the cars will tow up really well so it will be interesting to see what happens to the racing product.”

SFHR and Newgarden take to the Texas Motor Speedway for the first IZOD IndyCar Series practice session on Friday, June 8 at 12:30 p.m. The Firestone 550 will be run on Saturday, June 9 at 7:45 p.m. CT.

Notes:

  • As a 21-year-old rookie in the IZOD IndyCar Series, Newgarden can still walk around various race tracks without being identified as a driver. At the Long Beach Grand Prix, the Nashville-native interviewed fans incognito to hilarious results: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdcF1km_eiA
  • Newgarden’s highest finish on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule came in his series debut at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March where he started 19th and finished 11th.
  • Newgarden currently sits in 21st position in the IZOD IndyCar Series driver point standings.
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