Indiana city backs Newgarden for Indy 500

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Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing will receive associate backing for the Indianapolis 500 from the Indiana city of New Castle (44 miles east of Indianapolis), which raised sponsorship funding through private investors.

Newgarden raced go-karts early in his career in New Castle, which is home to New Castle Motorsports Park, one of the top karting facilities in the country.

“I learned my race craft at NCMP and go back there every year I can for the Robopong 200 kart race,” Newgarden said in a team statement. “It will mean a lot to me to carry a decal of the city where I started my racing career on my livery at the Indianapolis 500.”

“With help from private investors in New Castle, this has become a reality for our community,” said New Castle mayor Greg York. “This will allow us to promote New Castle on the largest advertising stage in the world.”

For the “500,” Newgarden’s car will change numbers from its regular No. 67 to No. 21 for the team’s Indy-only primary sponsor, Century 21. The decision to change numbers has proven fruitful in the not-too-distant past, as Dario Franchitti won last year’s “500” after flipping from his regular No. 10 to No. 50 for the race in honor of Target’s 50th anniversary.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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