Josef Newgarden fought his way through multiple crashes, six extended caution periods and extreme heat to finish the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT in second place, his first podium and highest IZOD IndyCar Series finish in his young career.
The Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) driver started the 75-lap race from the fifth position, but fell back as far as 19th place before driving his way forward through the field.
“I don’t know how I finished second to be honest with you,” Newgarden said modestly. “I got hit probably six or seven times in the rear. I know I slammed into people myself from getting hit. I don’t even know how to describe this race to anybody. I think everyone had some good and bad luck. Fortunately the good luck cycled at the end of the race for us and we finished off great.”
Newgarden found his No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone car stuck in the back of a multiple car crash on lap 47. He found his way back on track with no major damage, but had a great deal of ground to make up.
The 22-year-old successfully maneuvered around two more multiple car collisions, and with five laps remaining he found himself in second place, directly behind eventual race winner Simon Pagenaud.
“We wanted to challenge Simon (Pagenaud) but we had a bit of a brake mishap at the end,” Newgarden said. “We were really struggling with trying to keep the pedal solid. I think the heat was getting to everybody today. It was really difficult to keep the cars cool and it definitely bit us at the end.
“I think we just boiled the temperature too much in the calipers and the fluid was boiled over. As soon as that happens it’s so hard to get it back. The tires were fine I just couldn’t brake. I was doing everything I could to hold Sebastien (Bourdais) off at that point. I don’t know what would have happened if I could have raced Simon at the end, but I really think we would have given him a run for his money and had a shot. It would have been fun. Simon and I are friends, he’s a good guy and I would have liked to race him. Second place is a great result for our team though, and we’ll take it.”
At the end of the day, Newgarden gave all of the credit to his team.
“Thanks to everyone at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing,” he said. “I wouldn’t be an IndyCar driver without them. I’m so thankful for all the hard work they put in. I’m happy to give them a second-place finish.
“Everyone on our team works so hard. Sarah (Fisher), Wink (Hartman), and the ownership is incredible. We have great mechanics and great engineers that work their tails off. We really haven’t had any reward yet over the last year and a half and I think this is great for everybody. We just have to go get a couple more now.”
The IZOD IndyCar Series field will take a breather before they head south to Houston, Texas for a double header on Oct. 5-6. To keep up with the latest news from SFHR, like Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing on Facebook and follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram.