Newgarden Scores Emotional Win at Rockingham
American race car driver Josef Newgarden helped the Joe Tandy Racing team begin the healing process of losing its founder Joe Tandy over the weekend (May 30-31), scoring the win in Round Four of the MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain. In addition to visiting victory lane in the first of three races at the event, the rising open-wheel talent stood on the podium in Round Six and earned a top-five result in Round Five at the Rockingham Motor Speedway in England.
For Newgarden, the second event of the British Formula Ford season was about not only winning races, but also honoring his mentor and team owner Tandy. With that in mind, it came as no surprise to anyone in attendance at Rockingham that the American was immediately one of the drivers to watch when the action officially got underway via qualifying on the modified oval course. At the end of what was a highly entertaining session, the Joe Tandy Racing rookie had posted the second quickest time, a mere 0.055s back of the fast time.
Returning to the cockpit of his No. 21 Robo-Pong/Racer of Tomorrow Ltd/Joe Tandy Racing Mygale SJ08 Premier Power car a short time later, Newgarden built on this momentum with a superb start from the front-row. Leading into the first turn, the 18 year-old held the position for the opening lap, before falling back to P2 one lap later. Motivated to win the first race since the sudden tragic passing of Tandy, Newgarden never gave up fighting for the lead. The opportunity he was looking for came following a brief safety car period. Getting an excellent jump on the re-start, he took over the lead and never looked back. When the checkered flag waved at the conclusion of 12 laps, Newgarden had scored an emotional win for Joe Tandy Racing.
“That one was for him [Joe Tandy],” stated Newgarden. “He was the heart of our team, and he's the one who drove us. I hope he's looking down and that he's proud of us now.”
One day later, Newgarden was back behind the wheel for races two and three of the tripleheader weekend. Getting another clean getaway when the lights went out for Round Five, the American retained second place into and exiting the opening sequence of turns. It however soon became apparent that the first-year driver’s car was not getting the best launch from the Deene hairpin on to the banked-oval portion of the track. Newgarden, despite the set back, continually challenged for the lead until the closing stages of the race. Unfortunately a brave maneuver by another driver late in the race not only caused Newgarden to lose one position, but hurt his momentum and shuffled the championship contender to fifth place at the stripe.
After a short break, Newgarden started Round Six from the pole position thanks to his win on day one of the event. While the talented teenager did not get the start he desired, initially falling back to fifth place, he quickly regrouped, working his way into the top-three. Showing good speed despite still battling problems in the hairpin, Newgarden continued his march forward as the race progressed, advancing up to third place when the checkered flag waved.
“Overall, I’m happy with how the weekend turned out,” said the two-time series race winner. “While I really wanted to win all three races for Joe, scoring the win in the first race and challenging for the win in the other two races is a good result given the circumstances. The goal is to continually get better and hopefully we’ll celebrating a championship in Joe’s honor at the end of the season.”
Newgarden and the rest of the Joe Tandy Racing squad now travel to the Donington Park Circuit for some testing prior to resuming the 2009 MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain on June 13-14, with Rounds Seven, Eight and Nine at Knockhill in Scotland.