Rookie Josef Newgarden showed glimpses of the competitive IZOD IndyCar Series driver he will one day become in Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto, but unfortunately his charge from the back of the field was cut short in the closing laps of the race.
Newgarden started in 20th and immediately began a calculated march to the front of the field. He turned the quickest lap out of any cars in the race on lap 62 at 105.188 mph.
The No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) Dallara/Honda/Firestone car was so spot-on that during his two pit stops his car needed no adjustments and received only fuel and tires.
Newgarden patiently climbed to fourth position and was challenging for third and what would have been his first podium finish when the tide turned.
On lap 80 of 85 Newgarden attempted a pass in Turn 3 on the inside of Simon Pagenaud for third place. With Pagenaud taking away Newgarden’s angle into the corner, the No. 67 car overshot the turn and went nose-first into the tire barriers. Though he was eventually able to restart the car, it was not before going one lap down.
Pagenaud received a 30-second penalty from IZOD IndyCar Series race control for blocking Newgarden’s car.
“Unfortunately at the end, I attempted a pass on Pagenaud that l don’t think I should have tried,” Newgarden said. “I went into the tires and that was the end of our fantastic run today.”
Newgarden had to settle for the 13th-place finishing spot.
“We had such a great car today just like we have all year,” he said. “We showed that despite missing two of three practice sessions and qualifying in the back of the pack, we have the ability to move up the field and threaten for a podium finish. We were right where we need to be today. We just need to seal the deal.”
Sarah Fisher, co-owner of SFHR, was sorry to see a promising result again evaporate before the checkered flag waved.
“We wore the heart of our emotions on our sleeves today,” Fisher said. “I appreciate all the fans who have stood behind us during this tough season though.”
Fisher’s goal for SFHR is to finish each of the five races that remain on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule.
“Our cars have been in the top-five of one practice session or another at almost every event we’ve been to this year,” she said. “We just now need to run every single lap from here forward throughout the remainder of the season.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay drove to victory in the Honda Indy Toronto after leading 36 laps. The win was Hunter-Reay’s third consecutive victory and catapulted him to the top of the driver point standings.
Charlie Kimball finished second, which was his career best IZOD IndyCar Series result. Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Oriol Servia rounded out the top-five.
Newgarden and SFHR will return to action in the IZOD IndyCar Series at the Edmonton Indy in Alberta, Canada on July 22.