Southern California is Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s (SFHR) final 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series destination, as the team heads to Auto Club Speedway for the season finale on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Josef Newgarden tested at the 2-mile oval on Sept. 24, and is looking forward to jumping back into the No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone car for the MAVTV American Real 500.
“I think Fontana is going to be a close race from everybody this year,” Newgarden said. “It’s a really unique track because you can use all four driving lanes, and the tires from Firestone will provide closer racing. You have to figure out which lanes work the best at certain times, which is the challenge.”
SFHR gained data from the D-shaped oval during testing last month, but Newgarden said there is still room to improve car set-up.
“We made some good headway during the test, but we still need to dig deeper into our notepad and figure out a couple of things before the race weekend,” he said. “I think we have a good idea of what we need to do, but we definitely need to use our practice sessions wisely to get our car set-up a little bit closer. I think if we use our time wisely then we should be looking really good for the race.”
The 22-year-old, who placed in the top-five on IndyCar’s final two street circuits, is focused on switching back to oval gear for Fontana’s 250-lap race.
“It’s going to be fun to finish on an oval,” Newgarden said. “Fontana is particularly tricky, so that will be exciting after coming off of a few street circuits. If anything, it should bring a lot of excitement for the finale.”
With the final 500-mile race up for grabs, Newgarden holds 14th place in IZOD IndyCar Series championship point standings. The Nashville-native has shown substantial improvement in his sophomore season, claiming his first career podium in Baltimore and finishing in the top-five in Brazil, Pocono and Houston. Newgarden finished in the top-10 in seven different races.
“I think we’ve made huge gains this year,” he said. “We did a lot of things really well and made great progress. It’ll be nice to go into the off-season after this weekend and try to make even more progress. I’m looking forward to finishing the season on a high note with everyone at SFHR and we’ll be looking to hopefully ride some good momentum into the winter months.”
Track activity kicks off at Auto Club Speedway at 1:45 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 18. The green flag will wave for the season finale at 8:50 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 19. For the latest trackside updates and photos from the No. 67 car, like Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing on Facebook and follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram.