Newgarden to Coach Young Talent at Chris Griffis Mazda Road to Indy Open Test
Just two years ago Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) driver Josef Newgarden was preparing for his debut in the Firestone Indy Lights series in hope of one day advancing to the IZOD IndyCar Series.
After winning the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights Championship and landing a seat to drive at SFHR for 2012, he is stepping back down to the lower rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system to spend time with other young drivers hoping to follow in his footsteps.
Newgarden will be on hand Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Chris Griffis Mazda Road to Indy Open Test to serve as a coach for the drivers testing USF2000, Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights cars.
“It’s just good for young drivers to speak with someone who’s been through exactly what they’re trying to accomplish,” Newgarden said. “The Mazda Road to Indy ladder through USF2000, Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights is such a great path to the IZOD IndyCar Series and I want to do my part to help get young talent to IndyCar.”
The test is named in memory of longtime Sam Schmidt Motorsports Firestone Indy Lights team manager Chris Griffis, who Newgarden worked with during his 2011 championship-winning season.
“Chris was a huge asset to Sam’s team when I was there, and he was one of the best team managers I’ve ever worked with,” Newgarden said. “He made a huge impact on everyone he worked with and I think it’s great that this test, which will help a ton of young drivers get started on their next seasons, is in his honor.”
Newgarden keeps a watchful eye on drivers in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system and is looking forward to working with some of the drivers he has been following closely.
“I follow them pretty extensively,” he said. “You really want to see how far they can go and how they’ll transition between the steps to the top of open-wheel racing. They’re talented kids and it’s fun to watch.”
Drivers testing USF2000, Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights cars will be on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 9 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11.