A tough overall day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) ended with a bright spot Sunday, May 25.
On the final restart of the 98th Indianapolis 500, Alex Tagliani gained five spots in the final seven laps, bringing the No. 68 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone car to the checkered flag in 13th place.
SFHR primary driver Josef Newgarden finished 30th in the No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone after an accident eliminated him on Lap 168 of the 200-lap race.
Tagliani, SFHR’s secondary driver for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” started the 500-mile race from the 24th position on the grid.
“We had a good start, we settled in, and then all of the sudden we got loose with the car,” Tagliani said. “I really didn’t know if it was our tire balance or the aerodynamics, but we started with a lot of aero, and the car was a bit slow in the straightaways.”
The No. 68 team hoped to pit under caution to take out wing, but the green flag flew for the first 149 laps of the 200-lap race. Tagliani led Laps 171-173 during the pit stop cycle, the fourth consecutive year he has led at least one lap in the “500.”
“It takes a lot of time to take wing out and we kept pitting under green,” Tagliani said. “We continued to trim the car until finally the car was balanced and quick enough to follow. We made some passes on restarts and had good pit stops to make up time.”
Tagliani, from Lachenaie, Quebec, enjoyed working with SFHR for the two-week duration of the Indianapolis 500. This was his sixth career start in the world’s most prestigious race but his first with SFHR.
“It’s been a lot of fun to see the way Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing operates,” Tagliani said. “Until you work with a team, you don’t know what it’s like. Hopefully it’s a team that will become a two-car program, and I’ll be right there when that happens. It’s definitely a team with potential, and if one day they become a two-car team, with what they showed me this month, it’s definitely something I’d be interested in looking at.”
Newgarden started eighth and was running steadily in the top 10 before problems arose on Lap 123 after his car ran out of fuel.
“We had a good day going,” Newgarden said. “We had a few communication issues and then ran out of fuel. We couldn’t get the engine fired back over, which is why we lost laps.”
Newgarden returned to the 2.5-mile oval after that problem but was forced out of the race when Martin Plowman hit his car from behind under caution on Lap 168.
“We got punted under a yellow,” Newgarden said. “It was a bad day for all our boys that worked hard all month. We really had a good car, so we’ll try to go to Detroit and be better.”
Newgarden and SFHR will take the No. 67 car north to Detroit for the Indy Dual in Detroit double-header weekend, May 31-June 1. For the latest team news and updates, follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram and like Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing on Facebook.