Yesterday it was announced that popular IndyCar driver turned team owner Sarah Fisher brought in businessman Wink Hartman as a partner in her team and signed 2011 Indy Lights Champion Josef Newgarden as driver for 2012. The addition of a business partner and the signing of Newgarden are both positive moves for Fisher’s operation. The addition of Hartman brings in someone to help the team on the business side which should help secure the team’s financial future. Newgarden’s signing is interesting, though.
The 20-year-old American, who won the Indy Lights title this year, has signed a three-year deal with the race-winning team, and is excited about the challenge ahead.
It will be a challenge indeed, the choice of a rookie driver by Sarah Fisher Hartman racing is a fascinating one. They are one of the lower budget teams and will no doubt have less testing time than the bigger teams. For this reason one may have expected them to hire a more veteran driver, one that has more experience in the bigger cars. On the other hand, everyone will be more or less starting from a blank sheet with the new 2012 IndyCar. There is no doubt that Newgarden is fast, he proved that in Indy Lights; we are now going to learn how good he is at chassis set up and developing a car. We have a chance to see just how much of a complete racer he is.
2012 will also tell us a lot about Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and the team’s technical staff. At times in 2011 with Ed Carpenter they struggled, but also had some strong performances including Ed Carpenter giving the team their maiden win at Kentucky. With Carpenter, it could be argued that he was weak on road courses. The team will no longer have that excuse in 2012 because Newgarden excelled on both road courses and oval tracks in Indy Lights. I’m not expecting them to be at the top of the charts but I wouldn’t expect them to be at the bottom either.