Newgarden gets first top 10 at Barber, and seeks more

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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.”

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”