It says a lot about the maturity and determination of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing sophomore Josef Newgarden that he was disappointed with ninth place at Barber Motorsports Park.
Newgarden (shown at St. Petersburg), regarded as one of the emerging American talents in the IZOD IndyCar Series, had not yet secured a top-10 finish in his first 16 starts due to a litany of bad luck. Frequent mechanical delays or contact, often not of his own doing, didn’t properly reflect his pace shown last year.
“I really think we should have been sixth or seventh,” Newgarden admitted. “I’m disappointed, but even so we still finished with a good top-10, but there’s definitely more to be gained.”
An off-course excursion cost Newgarden some time on Sunday, but nonetheless, he’d pressed ahead from a 22nd place grid position. Two tenths was all that separated him from advancing in his group in Q1, but that microscopic gap covered five positions.
Still, the Nashville native accentuated the positive for his team.
“It was a huge team effort,” Newgarden said. “In IndyCar, with it being so tight, everything has got to go right, everyone’s got to do their part, and when that happens I think we’re going to put good results together and that’s really what you saw today.”
Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.
Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.
“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”