From double DNF in Texas to one-two in Toronto, CFH Racing bounces back in style


A week is a long time in motor racing, but you needn’t tell CFH Racing that. After seeing both of its cars succumb to mechanical failures in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, the team bounced back in Toronto on Sunday to clinch its first one-two finish in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Following the merger between Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing at the end of the 2014 season, CFH Racing has now visited victory lane twice in the past ten races thanks to Josef Newgarden, who became just the third repeat winner in 2015.

The result was made all the sweeter by a second-place finish for Luca Filippi, marking the Italian’s best ever result in IndyCar and also his first podium finish.

“Just an amazing team effort,” Newgarden told NBCSN after the race. “I can’t believe that we did one-two even. It got a little close with Luca. We were really just trying to keep up. I got a little bit of lapped traffic.”

After a dose of bad luck had left the CFH Racing team at such a low ebb at Texas, the stars aligned and handed Newgarden a golden ticket in the form of a full-course caution ahead of the first round of pit stops in Toronto.

With the rest of the field unable to reach pit entry before it had shut, Newgarden was brought into the pits for a fresh set of tires, allowing the American to catapult up the order when the rest of the field dived in.

Once Helio Castroneves pitted from the lead under the second full course caution of the race, Newgarden found himself in a lead that he would only lose temporarily through the final round of stops.

“I got lucky on that yellow,” Newgarden said. “It was a great call though – it was a great effort by this crew.

“They gave me amazing pit stops and the car to win. Luca is such a star too, it’s amazing he can get a second place. Super happy for the whole group.”

It was the team success that Filippi celebrated and focused on as well, even if he had been within a single overtake of a surprise maiden IndyCar victory in Toronto on Sunday.

“I’m very proud to be on the podium and to bring the Italian flag as well around here,” Filippi told NBCSN.

“I’m very happy. Normally when you finish second you’re always a little upset for some reason. But this time, I think a one-two for CFH Racing, it’s so good.

“Here, we had a close battle between me and Josef. It was hard racing, but we had respect for each other, and we are extremely happy. We needed a result and we got it done.”

As turnarounds in IndyCar go, it’s difficult to think of many better in a seven-day period than this effort from CFH Racing.

“I’ve been pretty down since the performances at Indy and at Texas,” said team co-owner, Ed Carpenter. “But we knew we had strong street-course cars all year long. The best part of it is that both drivers and both crews executed on the same day and we all get to celebrate together. … We kind of ended up on different strategies and each stand made their calls. We didn’t start together, but we ended up together at the end.”

After New York whirlwind, Josef Newgarden makes special trip to simulator before Detroit


DETROIT – There’s no rest for the weary as an Indy 500 winner, but Josef Newgarden discovered there are plenty of extra laps.

The reigning Indy 500 champion added an extra trip Wednesday night back to Concord, N.C., for one last session on the GM Racing simulator before Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

After a 30-year run on the Belle Isle course, the race has been moved to a nine-turn, 1.7-mile layout downtown, so two extra hours on the simulator were worth it for Newgarden.

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“I really wanted to do it,” he told NBC Sports at a Thursday media luncheon. “If there’s any time that the sim is most useful, it’s in this situation when no one has ever been on a track, and we’re able to simulate it as best as we can. We want to get some seat time.

“It’s extra important coming off the Indy 500 because you’ve been out of rhythm for a road or street course-type environment, so I really wanted some laps. I was really appreciative to Chevy. There was a few guys that just came in and stayed late for me so I could get those laps before coming up here. I don’t know if it’s going to make a difference, but I feel like it’s going to help for me.”

After a whirlwind tour of New York for two days, Newgarden arrived at the simulator (which is at the GM Racing Technical Center adjacent to Hendrick Motorsports) in time for a two hour session that started at 6 p.m. Wednesday. He stayed overnight in Charlotte and then was up for an early commercial flight to Detroit, where he had more media obligations.

Newgarden joked that if he had a jet, he would have made a quick stop in Nashville, Tennessee, but a few more days away from home (where he has yet to return in weeks) is a worthy tradeoff for winning the Greatest Spectacle in Racing – though the nonstop interviews can take a toll.

“It’s the hardest part of the gig for me is all this fanfare and celebration,” Newgarden said. “I love doing it because I’m so passionate about the Indy 500 and that racetrack and what that race represents. I feel honored to be able to speak about it. It’s been really natural and easy for me to enjoy it because I’ve been there for so many years.

“Speaking about this win has been almost the easiest job I’ve ever had for postrace celebrations. But it’s still for me a lot of work. I get worn out pretty easily. I’m very introverted. So to do this for three days straight, it’s been a lot.”

Though he is terrified of heights, touring the top of the Empire State Building for the first time was a major highlight (and produced the tour’s most viral moment).

“I was scared to get to the very top level,” Newgarden said. “That thing was swaying. No one else thought it was swaying. I’m pretty sure it was. I really impressed by the facility. I’d never seen it before. It’s one of those bucket list things. If you go to New York, it’s really special to do that. So to be there with the wreath and the whole setup, it just felt like an honor to be in that moment.”

Now the attention shifts to Detroit and an inaugural circuit that’s expected to be challenging. Along with a Jefferson Avenue straightaway that’s 0.9 miles long, the track has several low-speed corners and a “split” pit lane (teams will stop on both sides of a rectangular area) with a narrow exit that blends just before a 90-degree lefthand turn into Turn 1.

Newgarden thinks the track is most similar to the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville.

“It’s really hard to predict with this stuff until we actually run,” he said. “Maybe we go super smooth and have no issues. Typically when you have a new event, you’re going to have some teething issues. That’s understandable. We’ve always got to massage the event to get it where we want it, but this team has worked pretty hard. They’ve tried to get feedback constantly on what are we doing right, what do we need to look out for. They’ve done a ton of grinding to make sure this surface is in as good of shape as possible.

“There’s been no expense spared, but you can’t foresee everything. I have no idea how it’s going to race. I think typically when you look at a circuit that seems simple on paper, people tend to think it’s not going to be an exciting race, or challenging. I find the opposite always happens when we think that way. Watch it be the most exciting, chaotic, entertaining race.

Newgarden won the last two pole positions at Belle Isle’s 2.35-mile layout and hopes to continue the momentum while avoiding any post-Brickyard letdown.

“I love this is an opportunity for us to get something right quicker than anyone else,” he said. “A new track is always exciting from that standpoint. I feel I’m in a different spot. I’m pretty run down. I’m really trying to refocus and gain some energy back for tomorrow. Which I’ll have time to today, which is great.

“I don’t want that Indy 500 hangover. People always talk about it. They’ve always observed it. That doesn’t mean we have to win this weekend, but I’d like to leave here feeling like we had a really complete event, did a good job and had a solid finish leading into the summer. I want to win everywhere I go, but if we come out of here with a solid result and no mistakes, then probably everyone will be happy with it.”