Lucas Luhr and Josef Newgarden finished the Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma 22nd and 24th respectively, after a streak of unfortunate luck fell on the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing two-car squad.
Luhr started his first ever IndyCar race from the 24th position. The 34-year-old Germany-native, driving the No. 97 SFHR/RW Motorsports car, was in 17th place when an engine fire ended his day short of the checkered flag.
“It was a shame that we couldn’t finish the race because I think we had a possible top 14 or 15 finish in us,” Luhr said. “Toward the end of the race I was getting quicker. I think we were more competitive in the race than we have been all weekend long, and that to me shows that the learning curve is going in the right direction. It’s a shame for the guys, for RW and SFHR that we couldn’t finish the race, but that’s racing.
I had a lot of fun and I hope I can come back.”
Josef Newgarden’s bad luck came early in the race after contact with the No. 5 car of E.J. Viso resulted in a gearbox line issue. The No. 67 crew fixed the problem to the best of their ability without high stand access in pit lane.
The Nashville-native returned to the race until his gear stuck again on lap 56 — an issue believed to be caused by the original gearbox problem. Newgarden finished the day in 24th place.
“We’ve just had a lot of bad luck lately,” Newgarden said. “It’s almost like we have a dark cloud following us around. I think we had a good car and really had a shot at a good points day. The car was great on (Firestone) red (tires), and really fast. It was easy to drive for the most part so I was really proud of that. I think the guys were ready to rock, but today was just one of those tougher days for luck so hopefully we can regroup and get rid of that bad luck for Baltimore and have a good weekend there.”
Though race results might not reflect it, SFHR showed improvement throughout the Go Pro Grand Prix race weekend.
“A two-car team is a big advantage,” Newgarden said. “It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed having a teammate and having a bigger group working together. I thought it was very productive this weekend. I think Lucas (Luhr) is a really strong driver. He was very helpful on the technical side and was a good teammate so I enjoyed having that experience. Hopefully we can have something like that work out for the future.”
SFHR’s co-owner Sarah Fisher was also pleased with the effort of her two-car team, and especially the performance of rookie Luhr.
“I am so pleased to see the progress from where he (Luhr) started on Wednesday,” Fisher said. “His feedback and his feel for the race car were great. He learned a lot about how much you can push and take from it as you apply the techniques you learn in these cars verses the techniques he runs in ALMS (American Le Mans Series). Certainly by the end of today’s race he was running laps that were really respectable and I want to push to try and see him do more.”
Team Penske’s Will Power won the Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Joining him on the podium in second and third place were Justin Wilson and Dario Franchitti respectively.
The IZOD IndyCar Series field will be back in action in one week for the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Sept. 1. For all of the latest team updates, like Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing on Facebook and follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram.