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Newgarden Looks to Continue Upward Mobility at Mid-Ohio

Josef Newgarden made a lot of new fans last year at Mid-Ohio. The third-year IndyCar driver came tantalizingly close to earning his first Verizon IndyCar Series win, and if it weren’t for a problematic final pit stop, the Tennessee native could have gone on to victory for the upstart Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team.

Newgarden returns to the beloved 2.2-mile road course with a new team, a new engine manufacturer and a new status as a two-time IndyCar race winner. He also heads to the Lexington, Ohio, circuit holding eighth place in the drivers’ championship, and with three events left to run, knows he can move inside the top 5 if his impressive form continues at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

“I think it would be hard to say winning the championship is highly realistic at this point, but I do know we can move way up in the championship if everything goes the way it should this weekend and for the last two races of the year,” Newgarden said. 

“Going into these races, we can finish strong, but need three clean races. As long as we have solid finishes, I don’t see why we can’t get inside the top 5, and if we can go higher, more power to us. We just don’t want to go backwards!”

With the combined power of the SFHR team and Ed Carpenter Racing, Newgarden’s No. 67 CFH Racing entry will race at Mid-Ohio in a decidedly different program than the one he led in 2014. The merged teams switched from Honda to Chevy motors, and the introduction of aero kits means the 24-year-old has plenty of changes to consider. Simply bolting on the chassis and aero setup that worked on last year’s pre-aero kit Honda isn’t an option, but Newgarden isn’t worried.

“The best thing about the Chevy partnership is they’ve allowed us to build off of last year’s performance,” he explained. “With their engineering support, we’ve been able to take whatever we did well last year and improve upon it; that’s been the case almost everywhere we’ve gone, and I think that will be the case at Mid-Ohio. We did really well in the race, and I expect we’ll do even better this year.”

Losing the 2014 Mid-Ohio race was an unfortunate outcome for Newgarden, and as IndyCar fans have come to expect, Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon ended up making his fifth trip to Victory Lane. The New Zealander’s mastery of Mid-Ohio is well known, and if he gets a chance, CFH’s young charger wouldn’t mind keeping the Kiwi from earning win number six.

“I think everyone would love to knock Scott off of his Mid-Ohio throne!” he said with a laugh. “He’s always going to be strong there, but he’s beatable. That’s the great thing about IndyCar; even the great Will Power can be beaten; we can all be beaten, and if we can put ourselves in a position to win this year, I think we can close the deal. Scott has enough trophies as it is.”

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