Going into Saturday’s Iowa Corn Indy 300, the results had not been there for Josef Newgarden this Verizon IndyCar Series season. But the American and his Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team finally put a big one on the board in the Heartland.
With 17 laps remaining in the 300-lap event, Newgarden took advantage of a caution period to pit for fresh tires in hopes that they’d help him make a late push for positions.
Ryan Hunter-Reay made the same decision and when the green flag came back out, both Honda-powered Americans sliced their way to the front of the field.
In the end, Hunter-Reay was victorious, while Newgarden captured his second career IndyCar podium by finishing second after starting 21st.
“I knew the laps were clicking down and at about five to go, I realized, ‘OK, this is going to get really good,'” Newgarden told NBCSN (for more of his comments, check out the clip above). “But there just wasn’t enough time to get Ryan. So, it’s really cool – obviously, finishing on the podium is a great job for our whole team, especially after qualifying. We made a bit of an error there.
“[But] we just did an amazing job tonight. Our team was solid. We had such good pit stops, really good strategy, just kept our head in the game the entire way.
“We didn’t have the best balance all race long, but there were parts where we were really fast. We just kept with it, and at the end, we made it when it counted.”
Prior to Saturday, Newgarden has suffered five DNFs in the first 11 races of the year and his best finishes were a pair of eighths from Barber Motorsports Park and Pocono Raceway.
Time will tell if Saturday’s result will be what he and the single-car SFHR team needed to begin a second-half charge. But Newgarden did note that instead of running into bad luck like he has repeatedly in 2014, the breaks went his way this time.
“It was great to have a run that I think was representative to our pace,” he said. “We were definitely a Top-10 car tonight, probably got a little more than we needed there by doing the new tire strategy.
“But this team deserves it…To get a result – every now and then, it’s something you need obviously, and we’ve been waiting for it.”