Newgarden's early exit from FF Festival
KENT, ENGLAND (October 20, 2009) – Josef Newgarden’s hopes of a repeat win at the historic Formula Ford Festival in England unfortunately ended prematurely over the weekend (October 17-18). The British Formula Ford runner-up and Rookie of the Year failed to finish a lap in the Final, when an overheating engine forced the American into pit lane after a superb start.
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One year after becoming the first American to win the renowned Formula Ford Festival, taking the Kent class honors, Newgarden was back behind the wheel of a FF at Brands Hatch taking part in the trophy event. Piloting the same No. 21 Robo-Pong/Racer of Tomorrow Ltd/Joe Tandy Racing/Mygale SJ09 Premier Power entry that led him to nine wins – three at Brands Hatch - in the British Formula Ford title fight, the American teenager entered the 2009 edition of the FF Festival as one if not the, favorite for the Duratec class win.
Newgarden appeared ready to live up to those expectations in pre-event testing, turning the quickest times around the Indy Circuit configuration on Wednesday and Thursday. When official practice got underway on Friday, things however did not go according to plan, as a gearbox issue not only prevented Newgarden from posting competitive times, but also forced him to miss the final session as the JTR crew repaired the car.
When qualifying for the Heat race got underway on Saturday morning, the 18 year-old was focused on turning some quick laps, seeking a good starting position for the always competitive 15-lap opening race of the event. While Newgarden managed to post the fourth fastest time, he was disappointed in the effort, believing he and the car were capable of battling for the pole position.
Returning to the cockpit of his Robo-pong backed Joe Tandy Racing Mygale a short time later, Newgarden put qualifying behind him, focusing on quickly advancing up the charts. The 18 year-old never got the chance however, as it quickly became evident the car was not quite right. Battling all the way to the checkered flag, Newgarden was classified seventh when the race concluded. Following the race, the JTR crew determined Newgarden’s engine was down on power, forcing the team to make an unplanned engine change over night prior to the Sunday morning Semi-Final.
In repeat of day two, Sunday’s race action got underway with Newgarden deeper in the field than desired, but more than ready to work his way forward. The former Team USA Scholarship winner appeared headed towards reaching his goal, advancing into the top-five by lap five of the 18-lap race. His forward progress unfortunately ended a short time later, when fourth place contacted the American as he attempted to pass. Despite the only damage being a donut tire mark on his Mygale, Newgarden was sent into the Clearways gravel trap. While Newgarden was able to rejoin the race, he subsequently crossed the stripe in 13th, earning a 26th place starting position for the feature race Final at the end of the day.
Newgarden, having yet again put the disappointment of a less than desirable result behind him, lined-up at the rear of the field confident he could still make his mark in the 2009 edition of the Formula Ford Festival. Luck was not on his side however, as upon rolling out for the installation lap, his JTR Mygale immediately began leaking water. Despite the problem, Newgarden got away cleanly when the lights went out, making up four to five positions by turn one. While the rising American talent continued his charge through the next few corners, skyrocketing engine temperatures forced his race to come to halt before the opening lap was completed.
"I’m somewhat frustrated and very disappointed for sure, but I’m not one bit discouraged!” stated Newgarden after the race. “It was a great season, with a great team, and an absolutely wonderful family to be part of. I will never forget them and what they did for me during the toughest situation any family could ever face. I'm just a little sad we couldn't have won this race for Joe Tandy, but I'm sure he is just as proud of us for what we accomplished all year… we won, we lost and we always worked together as a team."
Newgarden will now take a brief break, before returning to the cockpit of a ‘Kent’ powered Formula Ford via the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy (October 31-Novembr 1) at the Silverstone Circuit in England.