IndyCar Driver Review: Josef Newgarden

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With the IndyCar season in the books and a limited amount of news to come since the season finale at Fontana, my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and are taking a look back at the 2013 season just past. Chris and I each ranked our top 10 drivers and some of the biggest stories; now we take a look back at the field driver-by-driver.

P14 and one of the most improved drivers of 2013, is Josef Newgarden…

2013 SEASON PREVIEW

Josef Newgarden

  • Team: Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing
  • 2012: 23rd Place, Best Finish 11th, Best Start 2nd
  • 2013: 14th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 5th, 1 Podium, 4 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 17.5 Avg. Start, 13.7 Avg. Finish

DiZinno says: I’m a massive believer in Josef Newgarden and his potential, and it was realized in part during an improved sophomore season. The results came – four top-fives including a runner-up in Baltimore – and so too did a nine-spot jump in the standings from 23rd in 2012 to 14th this year. Still, I know how hungry this kid is because even with his improvements, he wants more out of himself and to give Sarah Fisher her second win as a team owner. And the one thing that needs to improve is qualifying. Newgarden’s starting position average (17.5) beat only three other full-time drivers, Ed Carpenter, Graham Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra. If he makes a similar performance jump Charlie Kimball did from his second to third year, I’ll say it now, look out. He’ll be a free agent at the end of 2014 and next year is his shot to move up the grid.

Estrada says: Another driver that made a good leap in performance this year was Newgarden, who’s continuing to look more and more like a future star. His inaugural podium finish at Baltimore was the biggest highlight from his 2013 season, but we can’t leave out his stellar run at Sao Paulo, where he overcame an engine change penalty that put him 25th on the starting grid and managed to fight for the win before his tires finally had enough and he subsequently settled for fifth. Qualifying was a problem but if he can figure that out, then he just might deliver an upset win for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing at some point in 2014.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.