Being the new kid on the block isn’t always easy, so rookie IZOD IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden is hoping he’ll find a small taste of comfort and home this weekend when he drives the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) Dallara/Honda/Firestone car in the Edmonton Indy.
Newgarden, a 21-year-old Nashville, Tenn.-native, recently found out that his hometown is a sister city to none other than Edmonton, Alberta.
“I had no idea that Edmonton was a sister city to Nashville,” Newgarden said.
While Newgarden didn’t know he would be entering Nashville-friendly territory for the Edmonton Indy until very recently, he is fully prepared to be embraced as Edmonton’s hometown driver.
“Probably the fact that they are both cities is the only thing I can see Nashville and Edmonton having in common,” he said. “But they both have really friendly people, so I’m excited to meet the Edmonton race fans.”
Newgarden also knows that to truly be embraced as one of Edmonton’s own, he will need to visit West Edmonton Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in North America.
“I didn’t get to go to the giant mall last year while I was in Edmonton for the Firestone Indy Lights race,” he said. “I saw it from a distance though, and I’ve been told by many, many people to go there. I’m going to try to make it this year.”
As for on-track action at the Edmonton Indy, Newgarden will be seeking his first podium finish in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
He was running fourth at the Honda Indy Toronto race when he attempted a pass for third with less than five laps to go and tangled with fellow rookie driver Simon Pagenaud. Newgarden spun around and lost a lap to the leaders before he could re-start his car, settling for a 13th-place finish.
Newgarden is ready to chase down his first podium at the Edmonton Indy with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, and it would be an added bonus to do so in front of his “hometown” Edmonton fans.
Newgarden will take to the streets of the Edmonton City Centre Airport for IZOD IndyCar Series practice on Friday, July 20. The green flag drops on the Edmonton Indy at 2:47 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 22. The race will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network, formerly known as Versus, live beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (Driver – Nashville, Tenn.)
On the Edmonton Circuit:
“I like Edmonton a lot. It has a lot of big braking zones so it should provide for good passing, especially with the new car this year. The chassis promotes more passing than in previous years. I think the track configuration combined with the new chassis will provide a great racing event in Edmonton.”
On the second Canadian race in a row:
“I love the races in Canada. There were a lot of great fans at the last Canadian race in Toronto. They’re very knowledgeable and passionate about IndyCar, which is very refreshing. I think the same is true for fans in Edmonton. I think in general Canadian IndyCar fans are very knowledgeable about the sport and that makes it fun for us to come to the tracks and interact with them. Getting to see those fans is what I enjoy most about the Canadian stint of the schedule.”
Josef Newgarden has been to victory circle once already at the Edmonton City Centre Airport and has never finished worse than second on the circuit. In 2011 for the Firestone Indy Lights Edmonton Twin 100s, he finished second in the first race and won the second race.
SFHR, No longer just oval specialists: The 2012 Edmonton Indy will be SFHR’s first appearance at the circuit. On the surface that would appear to be a disadvantage, but SFHR has found speed at each of the five street circuits on the schedule prior to the Edmonton Indy, despite having limited experience at each track. Highlights of the team’s success on street courses in 2012 include starting on the front row for the Long Beach Grand Prix and racing for a podium late in the Honda Indy Toronto race.