Newgarden ‘nervous’ as debut of new-look IndyCar nears

Josef Newgarden

Josef Newgarden's 2015 IndyCar season will be dependent on moving parts, including some that won't be on his race car.

The Tennessee native drives for CFH Racing, a new organization formed by the consolidation of teams owned by IndyCar mainstays Ed Carpenter and Sarah Fisher.

CFH Racing and every other IndyCar team will face the challenge of implementing new race car body styling that will be phased in during races, including the Verizon IndyCar Series doubleheader in Detroit in May.

"I'm nervous," Newgarden said at the North American International Auto Show.

"It's a little nerve-wracking going into a season wondering if you're going to be competitive."

IndyCar manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda will soon unveil new side pods, rear wings and front wings for their race cars.

There will be different "aero kits" for each IndyCar racing discipline, including the Belle Isle road course.

"It's like an airplane changing its shell," Newgarden, 24, said. "It's new body work. The cars are going to look different.

"I think they'll be sexier. Right now they're a little bit plain."

The season opens March 8 in Brazil, but, IndyCar said, new aero packages won't be included on cars until the March 29 race at St. Petersburg, Fla.

Few in the industry have seen the new body work, Newgarden said.

"It's been very secretive," Newgarden said. "The manufacturers have put so much money and so much technology into it, they don't want any information leaking out.

"We're not going to know how it all works until everybody gets together."

Chevy and Honda, Newgarden said, were allowed to implement unique features into body work within IndyCar guidelines.

CFH Racing, which also has businessman Wink Hartman as a co-owner, will use Chevrolet engines and body work.

"You're going to see some separation between Honda and Chevy as far as looks goes," Newgarden said.

"And you'll probably see some performance differences. Those types of things can happen when you open up the rules a little bit."

The new-look IndyCars will drive differently than what Newgarden is accustomed to, he said.

"When you add new aero, it requires new driving technique," Newgarden said. "You'll see some adjusting going on for everybody. There will be a lot of setup adjusting going on."

Newgarden has started 51 Verizon IndyCar Series races for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing since 2012.

He has led 21 laps, and he has not won a race.

Newgarden will have a teammate this season, although it's unclear who will fill out the CFH Racing lineup.

He's encouraged to have another race team in the same Indianapolis shop as a result of the Fisher-Carpenter consolidation.

"That's going to be the biggest strength we've added," Newgarden said. "Both of us (Fisher and Carpenter) lacked two cars last year. As a one-car group, it's hard to keep up.

"Now we're going to have two cars working together, so we can get a lot more done during the (race) weekend."

The coming together of two race teams has been "seamless," Newgarden said.

But, he added, the team members need time to get used to working with one another.

"It's a new team," Newgarden said. "It's a whole new group of people working together. The management's changed, the positions have changed for some people."

Only so much can be accomplished at this time of the year, Newgarden said.

"You're kind of crammed into a shop. It's the dead of winter, and you're just sitting. The biggest thing that's going to help us is getting on the track."

Once on track, Newgarden expects favorable results.

"I have a lot of faith in Chevrolet," he said. "It's such a phenomenally organized group to be with.

"They've been at the top of their game since they returned to IndyCar racing (in 2012). We trust in Chevrolet to do the best job, but Honda is a very competent opponent."

Newgarden had seven top-10 finishes in 18 races last season.

He finished 13th in points. Driver Will Power of Team Penske gave Chevrolet a third consecutive season championship.

"I don't know if you can tighten up the field more than it was last year," Newgarden said. "If you breathed wrong during a qualifying lap, you might be back in 20th.

"It felt like everyone was on top of each other.

"I don't know what it's going to look like this year. Will the competition be more spread out? I don't know. I don't think anyone does." macombdaily.com

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