Perhaps Josef Newgarden’s best IndyCar weekend yet ends in frustration

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – For once, it looked like the stars were aligning for the punch-above-their-weight Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team and its driver, the talented 23-year-old Josef Newgarden.

The third year Verizon IndyCar Series driver was on pace for potentially his first series win, or a near certain podium finish, Sunday in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. But, as has been written elsewhere here on MotorSportsTalk in the last 24 hours, it went begging after contact from Ryan Hunter-Reay at an abnormal spot to pass on the circuit, the tight right-handed Turn 4.

Here’s Newgarden’s interview to NBCSN in case you missed it:

Still, here’s what makes Newgarden such a boss. He has the joie de vivre of a 12-year-old and the maturity level of someone three times that when it comes to proper perspective on the situation.

Just check out these two tweets.

You really can’t be any classier than that. And that’s coming after one of his best ever weekends in IndyCar.

A career-best qualifying effort of fourth on Saturday came after he and the SFHR team bounced back from a slight incident in first practice. Then his race Sunday was a methodical run in the top five, culminating with the team’s final pit stop that got him out ahead of Hunter-Reay for the final stint.

I’ve written this before, but his time will come. And probably sooner rather than later.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.