That’s the question an injured Josef Newgarden asked himself from the sidelines of the Grand Prix of Baltimore while he watched racing veteran Bruno Junqueira drive the No. 67 car for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR).
After sitting out for a full race weekend, the 21-year-old rookie driver is ready to reclaim the wheel of the No. 67 car and punctuate his first IZOD IndyCar Series season with a solid result at Auto Club Speedway in Sunday’s MAV TV American Real 500.
Newgarden broke his left index finger in a frightening crash with Sebastien Bourdais on Aug. 26 in the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. The injury required surgery, and he had to hand over the reins of the No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone car for the next race in Baltimore.
“It was really hard to watch Bruno drive my car in Baltimore,” Newgarden said. “I’ve never been injured inside a race car before and had to sit out while someone else drove my car. It was tough but I learned a lot and can’t wait to get back in.”
After the crash in Sonoma, Newgarden described his finger as “crushed.” Post-surgery, his left index finger has seven screws holding it together.
Despite the extra metal, he says that he and his finger will be ready for the MAV TV American Real 500.
“I think my finger will be fine,” Newgarden said. “It’s been getting better each day, and I think I should be fine in the car to hold on for the oval. That’s not saying ovals are easier than road courses, but it should be easier on my finger.”
It won’t be smooth sailing at Auto Club Speedway, however. Newgarden experienced the track’s bumpy surface in August at a test, and he will test again at the track this Wednesday.
“Auto Club Speedway is very, very bumpy, and the seams of the track are difficult to navigate when you’re changing lanes,” he said. “It’s a really difficult track, probably one of the most difficult ovals I’ve ever been to. It’s going to be a long 500 miles.”
He hopes testing at Auto Club Speedway will give him the extra preparation he needs to ready his car and his finger for the 500-mile race.
“I’m really glad we’re testing this week because we need the track time,” Newgarden said. “A lot of guys have had more testing time than SFHR has this season so, we need to get caught up. Hopefully it will help us have a better result during the race weekend.”
The MAV TV American Real 500-mile race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., will air live on NBC Sports Network, Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
- Bionic Man: Josef Newgarden underwent surgery August 28th in Indianapolis to repair his left index finger after crashing with Sebastien Bourdais in the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. Newgarden’s left index finger now has a bone graft, a plate and seven screws. While he has been cleared to drive in the MAV TV American Real 500, his biggest challenge may be clearing airport security with a finger full of metal.
- SFHR’S Good Luck Charm Turns One: Zoey O’Gara, daughter of SFHR co-owner Sarah Fisher and husband Andy O’Gara, will turn one on Thursday, Sept. 13. Zoey will spend her first birthday traveling to Fontana, Calif. with her mom and dad for the MAV TV American Real 500 race weekend. At just two weeks old, Zoey attended her first-ever race last October at Kentucky Speedway where SFHR scored its first win with driver Ed Carpenter. Could Zoey’s milestone birthday be good luck for SFHR in the 2012 season finale?