Alex Tagliani, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, will have a new opportunity for this year’s month of May in the second Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing entry.
Tagliani will drive the team’s No. 68 SFHR/RW Dallara/Honda/Firestone for the Indianapolis 500. And for teammate Josef Newgarden, it’s a huge get, because it will mark the first time the young Nashville native will have a veteran in the team’s second car (Bryan Clauson in 2012 Indianapolis 500 and Lucas Luhr in 2013 Sonoma race were each making their series debuts).
“It has always been our goal at SFHR to hire talent for credentials, and I am excited to have that opportunity again to include Tag in our Indianapolis 500 lineup, alongside Josef,” SFHR co-owner Sarah Fisher said in a release. “Wink has helped us bring the proper individuals together to provide a solidly prepared effort toward success at Indy. We continue to have the support of the RW Motorsports founder, Steve Weirich, for this second program and are looking forward to building on to this second entry even further during the second half of the season.”
Added Tagliani, “I need to really thank Sarah and Wink for this chance to go back to Indianapolis to win this race. It’s been a pleasure working with them. This has the potential to develop into a longer association because I really love what this team is about. You couldn’t ask for a better team to attack the ‘500.’ They have the ability to surprise a lot of people! I’m looking forward to working with Josef and trying to help SFHR win the big one.”
This is the fourth extra Honda added for the ‘500, along with Martin Plowman, Jacques Villeneuve and Kurt Busch. That brings Honda’s confirmed number of engines for the race up to 17, as beyond the four Indy-only cars, Oriol Servia’s second Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car has been added for four races.
The separate, crowd-funded Cutters RT effort, if it materializes, would be an additional entry that SFHR would run.
Tagliani is in action this weekend at the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, driving with Chris Cumming and Rusty Mitchell in RSR Racing’s No. 08 ORECA FLM09 PC car.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.