Josef Newgarden has gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in the last two Verizon IndyCar Series races.
The 25-year-old Hendersonville, Tennessee native roared to his first win of the season at Iowa Speedway in dominating fashion (led 282 of 300 laps), only to crash and finish last in the next race on the schedule, at Toronto nearly two weeks ago.
That was a rough pill for Newgarden to swallow, as he wound up dropping from second to fifth in the series standings, as well.
He’s looking for a big rebound in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
In a sense, Mid-Ohio owes Newgarden a turn of good luck. In last year’s race there, Newgarden was on pace and strategy for a likely podium finish.
However, a late caution wrecked that gameplan and Newgarden finished 13th.
In 2014, he started on the front row and was in the lead when he ran over an air hose on the final pit stop, drawing a drive-through penalty and a disappointing 12th place outing.
Now it’s back to Mid-Ohio and payback time for the driver of the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Chevy Dallara. And if Newgarden does well, he’ll have J.R. Hldebrand to once again thanks for being his lucky charm.
Let’s explain: Hildebrand tested for Newgarden at Road America, and the latter finished eighth.
Hildebrand tested for Newgarden again at Iowa, and the latter wound up winning.
Guess what? Hildebrand once again tested last week for Newgarden at Mid-Ohio with fellow Ed Carpenter Racing teammate Spencer Pigot.
Will that pattern of success continue Sunday? Newgarden certainly hopes so. While he’s fallen to fifth in the standings, he’s only 14 points out of third place.
In the bigger picture, Newgarden is 88 points behind series leader Simon Pagenaud with five races remaining.
“I can’t wait to get back to Mid-Ohio,” Newgarden said in a team media release. “It’s a great road course track, one of the best we have in North America.
“I’m excited to get back in the car and see what we can do points-wise. We’ve had good cars around Mid-Ohio the past couple of years, it’s a really good shot for the team to get a win there. I feel confident that we’ll have a good effort with the whole Fuzzy’s Vodka crew and we should be able to move up the board a little bit after the weekend and see where we’re at in the points heading into Pocono. I’m ready to get back in the car after a weekend off.”