The situation looked to be aligned just right for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) and driver Josef Newgarden during the 40th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach before an incident on Lap 56 ended Newgarden’s day early Sunday, April 13.
Newgarden, who started fourth in the Verizon IndyCar Series event, exited pit lane on Lap 56 and took the lead of the race. Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport attempted to pass Newgarden on the inside of Turn 4, causing an incident involving seven cars. Instead of racing for his first Verizon IndyCar Series victory, Newgarden was unable to continue and was credited with 19th place.
“It’s a tough day,” Newgarden said. “It’s difficult when you have an incident, especially at the front. I never expected to leave here with a crashed race car.”
Newgarden needed more time to heat his fresh Firestone alternate tires placed on the No. 67 Honda-powered car during SFHR’s final pit stop on Lap 55.
“When you leave (pit lane) on cold tires and you have guys coming up behind you on hot tires, you’re definitely a sitting duck,” Newgarden said. “The problem is, we just came out of the pits, we got the lead, and I was struggling to control the car because of the cold tires.
“On top of that, an incident in Turn 4 should never happen. You can’t pass in 4 no matter what. It’s never happened before; it just doesn’t work. So I was surprised that we ended up in the fence. It definitely ruined a lot of guys’ days. It’s just a shame for us that it had to happen there. I knew we were most likely a sitting duck later on in the lap, but would have never expected something to happen in Turn 4.”
SFHR proved to be quick all weekend on Long Beach’s 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit, qualifying on the second row Saturday and finishing atop the speed chart in the warm-up Sunday morning.
“There are positives to take away,” Newgarden said. “We had an incredible car; the crew was solid all weekend. If anything, I’m just really looking forward to the rest of the races. I think we’re going to have a great car at a lot of other races this year. It’s just a shame for everyone involved, the engineers, mechanics, Honda and all of our partners. Tough day, but we’ll move on to the next one.”
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Mike Conway took the checkered flag, followed by Will Power and Carlos Munoz, respectively.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing will be back on track at Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday, April 27. To keep up with the latest news, follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram, and like SFHR on Facebook.