A comeback from a violent crash and a last-minute scramble to make an engine change before qualifications may sound like a carefully crafted TV script, but those were the cards Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) were dealt at the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season finale in Fontana, Calif.
While SFHR worked to overcome the weekend’s challenges, the ‘INDYCAR 36’ production crew was in their shadow to capture the drama. Fans can see the action for themselves on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
Newgarden broke his left index finger in a crash with Sebastien Bourdais in the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on August 26th and was forced to sit out the race prior to Fontana while his finger healed.
“In Fontana, we had a huge backstory for the episode with Josef’s finger injury in Sonoma,” said Dan Huber, producer for Newgarden’s ‘INDYCAR 36’ episode. “We were right there with him when he got cleared to drive and saw the physical therapy he had to do to prepare for the grueling 500-mile race.”
The ‘INDYCAR 36’ story continued to unfold when Newgarden climbed into the No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone car for the first practice session. A part failure supplied by a third-party in the car’s Honda engine kept Newgarden out of the session and called for an engine change by the team.
SFHR had only three hours to change the engine before qualifications, and Newgarden turned no practice laps before he qualified with the new engine.
“I’m excited to see how much of the crew’s hard work shows up in the episode,” Newgarden said. “Fans should really be able to see how much work the team puts in during race weekends to get a solid finish.”
Newgarden went on to earn his best qualification spot of the season and led the first lap of his IZOD IndyCar Series career in the MAV TV American Real 500.
‘INDYCAR 36’ viewers will also get a unique look at the 21-year-old driver’s rapid ascent to the highest rungs of North American open-wheel racing.
“We took some time with Josef’s parents and got to hear some great stories of how Josef’s career got started on a go-kart track just eight years ago,” Huber said. “I wanted to know how hard it was for his parents to send him to Europe at only 17, but I realized after talking to them that it was similar to sending him off to college to train for his dream career, which is auto racing.”
‘INDYCAR 36’ featuring Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing will air on NBC Sports Network Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. ET.