This week as I spoke to Josef Newgarden from his home in Nashville the 21 year old was composed and confident. He was getting ready to head on to Florida for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar Series opener the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Our conversation touched on a number of topics and it was clear that Newgarden is wise beyond his years.
Last season’s 2011 Firestone Indy Lights Series Champion will be behind the wheel of the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda. The brand new bright blue and white car is a perfect fit for the rookie who is ready to get started to run his first full IndyCar Series.
JW: Tell me about you and the St. Petersburg street course?
Newgarden: Well I won the Indy Lights Series here last year and this is really a fun place to race. The fans are awesome, the course is challenging but fair at the same time. Starting my first ever IndyCar race in St. Petersburg does however excite because of my comfort with the course. Our team has been working hard for this race and I am so very happy that everyone at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing for giving me the chance to drive a great car like our Honda and to be blessed with such a dedicated and talented crew.
JW: How are you looking at approaching your first season on the IndyCar Series?
Newgarden: I know that it sounds cliché but we are going to take this one race at a time. This year is a whole new ball game with the new cars that have entered the series. We have the Chevy’s, the Lotus and of course our Honda engines. Each week we will be feeling out the abilities of our own car while watching how the new cars perform.
JW: Is your goal to win rookie of the year?
Newgarden: I would be lying if I did not say that I think about it. But we are working as a team to just getting better each week. So if we meet our goal of getting better each time we go out there then winning Rookie of the Year will take care of itself. This team has great potential and we hold ourselves to a very high standard.
So who will Newgarden face in the Rookie of the Year?
Simon Pagenaud, is considered the early favorite to win the rookie title and he will be driving the No.77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Honda. Some feel that Katherine Legge who will at the wheel of the No. 6 TrueCar entry for Lotus Dragon Racing is a worthy contender.