The rise of Josef Newgarden

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Gordon Kirby

Josef Newgarden has been knocking on the door since he came into IndyCar in 2012 with Sarah Fisher’s team. Last winter Fisher merged with rival Ed Carpenter, so Newgarden is now part of a two-car operation called CFH Racing. The 24-year-old from Tennessee has delivered in the best possible way, scoring his first IndyCar win at Barber Motorsports Park in April and winning again at Toronto in June, where Newgarden and team-mate Luca Filippi scored a one-two.

Josef has no doubts that Scott Dixon (Ganassi) and Team Penske’s four drivers – Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves – are the men to beat this year. “Dixon looks very good on the road courses,” Newgarden says. “There, I think he’s actually a little stronger than the Penske army.

“I think we’re right behind that bunch – really close. We’ve got a little bit more to do to take that final step and say we’re the quickest of everyone, but I think we’re right there with those guys. We made big strides over the winter to get there.

“The big thing for me is to get ourselves in a place where we’re consistently running up front every weekend, where we’re always a threat and always challenging. I think we’ve had that at most races this year. We’re often right in the mix. We’ve been running in the top 10 and frequently in the top five, so we’re right there with the front group.

“If we can continue doing that I think we’ll have a good shot at more victories and finishing well in the championship. That’s really the main goal. We’re here to fight for victories and be in a position to convert our luck into wins.”

Josef believes he can win anywhere. “I feel we’re going to have a shot at winning at every track we visit,” he says. “I’m excited about all of them.”

Last year Newgarden signed a one-year contract with CFH for 2015, and there’s lots of speculation about whether he will continue with CFH or move on to a bigger team such as Penske or Ganassi. Some suggest he could also make the move to F1 with Gene Haas’s new operation.

“I don’t know anything about F1, or what might develop in the next year or so,” Newgarden says. “F1 has always been my ambition. When I moved over to Europe to race Formula Ford and GP3, I wanted to try to get into Formula 1. That’s always been on my plate and still is, but I just don’t know how it would happen.

“I really want to have good success in IndyCar, but F1 is still on the list. I don’t know if it’s still possible to go and do that. Time will tell.

“There are lots of good things going on here in IndyCar. I’ve always loved Indycar racing and think it’s the best racing on the planet right now. You can’t find anything better, so it would be a big decision to do something different. And I’ve had so much help to find success in IndyCar with all the people and the team around me. It would be a very big decision if it came up.”

Newgarden and CFH Racing have arrived as serious contenders in the States. It will be interesting to see whether they can win more races this year, but for whom will Newgarden race next?

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