In hopes to find victory lane for the first time in his career, Josef Newgarden has been testing since before Christmas to try and get ready for the upcoming IndyCar season.
“I’m glad we got some test days. Pretty limited now in IndyCar racing. You have to be pretty on it if you have test days. If you have two days to run a car, you need to have a pretty good plan,” he commented. “We’ve done a lot of homework this off-season. We’ve been getting after it. Hopefully we’re going to be set for the year.”
Last year, Newgarden finished the year with a 19th place points finish, scoring his first IndyCar podium finish at Baltimore with a second. As he looks towards the year ahead, Newgarden says the key is finding more speed as that was their biggest problem last year.
“It’s attributed to a lot of things. We’ve got to do a better job with our homework. We have to do a better job with communication. There’s a lot of things I’ve been learning as a young driver,” he commented. “That’s the difficulty in open-wheel racing now and racing across the board. For a young driver that comes in, it’s difficult to figure things out quick enough. That’s because there’s not a lot of tools nowadays. You don’t have as many test days. You don’t understand everything before you’re racing an event.”
Newgarden added that it’s tough with him and Sarah Fisher Racing as it’s hard to learn these things with a limited budget and resources. However, he feels they’ve made good process over the past two years. He said 2012, he showed a lot speed – but couldn’t finish races. Last year, he finished all of the races except one – but didn’t have the speed that he had the previous year.
“Moving into year three, we have to have a fast car and be able to finish races well, call good races, have good pit stops. I’ve got to keep it out of the fence, keep it from getting tangled up. Everything has to kind of come together for year three,” he continued. “If we do that, I think it’s realistic that we could be a top 10 championship car. I think that’s a realistic goal for us to set. There’s always possibilities we could do better than that. I think being inside the top 10 for a championship is a great aspiration for all of us. I believe we can do that.
“We’ve done a lot of homework. A lot of hard work has been put in, as everybody does in the series. We’ve particularly put in a lot of work on our car. Each specific department has been looked at. Dampers, aerodynamics, all the relationships between the geometry, how they relate to the chassis stiffness. We’ve gone over everything and tried to do our homework as best as possible. Now we’re trying to do testing to confirm anything.”
As he looks to improve, though, as he will have a new engineer in the form of Jeremy Milless. Milless was the assistant engineer on Newgarden’s team in 2014.
“If there’s anything that Jeremy has been doing this year is putting everything he has as an engineer into the program. He’s done everything in the book to do a great job and find every little thing and detail in this car,” Newgarden commented. “It’s cool. Jeremy has never actually been a primary engineer of a racecar. I feel like he’s had a lot of opinions and views to do a racecar. It’s his opportunity to put that into full effect.
“It’s been fun because he’s had a ton of energy over the last three, four months. It energizes everybody when you have an engineer that’s fresh and wanting to improve. He’s like leading a charge almost. I’m really excited about it. He’s done a great job. We have a couple other great people in. He has a new assistant engineer underneath him who came from Panther Racing. We have some back-up there also. There’s a lot of good people in the mix. We’ve hired in some new mechanics, other key essential people. I’m excited. I think we’ve got great things ahead for 2014.”