Sarah Fisher set
many records in
IndyCar as a driver,
woman to finish on
a podium and first
woman to take a
pole position. As a
team owner, she
became a winner
(Ed Carpenter at
Kentucky in 2011).
In other words,
Mr. Newgarden has a
lot to live up to.
learning to work with my engineer. Josef
had a new car, no teammate to share
data with and no idea of how an IndyCar
should feel… Well, I don’t think there’s
anyone in the last 10 years who’s had as
hard a job as he did, so I think it’s pretty
incredible what he and the team did.
JN: Well, thank you. Yeah, the driver is a
crucial element to developing the car and
helping the team, so I probably wasn’t
the best guy to help the team progress,
although I think we did a good job with
what we had. What you’ve seen this year
is a more experienced driver who knows
so much more about the process from
the start to the finish of a race weekend.
And I was one of the lucky ones: I got a
second chance. The team were very
understanding of my rookie ups and downs.
Huge kudos to Sarah, Wink Hartman,
Andy O’Gara… I’ll be eternally grateful.
Is the closeness of competition also due to
the huge restriction on car development?
Have teams already reached a plateau?
JH I think engineers are so switched on
these days that they unlock 90 percent
of a car’s potential in just a couple of races.
“With so little testing, you test at the events,
and the race weekend format has been tough”
You get five percent more in the remainder
of that first season. And in the second year,
we’re all tackling that last five percent. So
there are small, small gains to be made,
and when personnel change teams, all the
intel gets pooled until there are no secrets.
That’s when the series opens new areas of
development and brings us back down to
80 percent of the car’s potential and then
we can work on that “new” 20 percent.
And when that happens, how hard is it as a driver on a one-car team to keep pace with the four-car teams? JN Like I said, I think we did a great job last year in quickly figuring out how to make the DW12 fast. Obviously, it’s a huge help to have four guys’ data from each session and we can’t do things as quickly as James and the Andretti team, because they can spread tasks over three or four drivers. So having a teammate would double the amount of work we’d get done in a session, and I know Sarah is looking to add a car eventually. But for now, I honestly think we do really well with what we’ve got. We have very switched-on engineers who work well with our mechanics. There’s no issue about
getting there; we just take a bit longer.
JH With so little testing during the year,
you’re testing at the race events, and the
race weekend format this year has been
tough. At Detroit we had one practice
session, then straight into qualifying.
Texas the same. There have been times
this season when we went the wrong way
in practice – a red flag falling at the wrong
time, or me hitting the wall at Milwaukee…
things that meant we didn’t get a proper