LONG BEACH, Calif., Sunday, April 15, 2012 – Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing had high hopes for a strong finish in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday after starting on the outside of the front row, but contact on the first lap of the race with Dario Franchitti ended Newgarden’s day.
“I got alongside him and gave him the inside lane, but I got touched on the exit and went right to the wall,” Newgarden said. “If he was braking alongside of me, I would have just given him the lane and tucked right in.”
The damage sustained to the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone car was too substantial for Newgarden to continue.
“It was a difficult day for us, and I feel really bad for the SFHR crew,” Newgarden said. “They put together an unbelievable race car, and I think we had a shot at a good finish today.”
Rookie Newgarden caught the eye of many IndyCar veterans on Saturday in qualifying when he drove his car to the seventh starting position. After penalties sustained by Chevrolet-powered cars for unapproved engine changes, Newgarden’s Honda-powered car moved up to the second starting position.
Despite an abrupt end to SFHR’s race in Long Beach, the team moves forward with knowledge gained from the solid result in qualifications.
“It’s always best to get back on the race track and start working again after something like this happens,” Newgarden said. “I think we’ll have just as strong of a package in Brazil as we did in Long Beach, and hopefully we can apply it to get a good result.”
By winning Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Will Power continued Team Penske’s dominance of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season. Team Penske has won all three races so far this season, and Power went back-to-back with his win today and at Barber Motorsports Park two weeks ago.
It was Power’s 17th career Indy car win and his second at Long Beach. He beat Simon Pagenaud Sunday by .8675 seconds.
Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay followed Simon Pagenaud across the line in third place, but he was penalized for late-race contact and moved back to sixth position. The penalty moved his teammate, James Hinchcliffe, up to third place. Rounding out the top five were KV Racing’s Tony Kanaan and Panther Racing’s JR Hildebrand.
There were nine lead changes among seven drivers. Pagenaud led twice for a total of 26 laps, 10 more than any other driver.
Three caution periods allowed the yellow flag to wave for 12 laps.
On the strength of his back-to-back wins, Power leaves Long Beach with a 24-point lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship over his teammate Helio Castroneves (127-103). Pagenaud is third with 100 points. Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is fourth with 96 points, while James Hinchcliffe is fifth with 95 points.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Sao Paolo Indy 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil on April 29.