Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing confirmed it has signed Josef Newgarden, winner of this year's Firestone Indy Lights Championship, as its driver for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series. The 20-year-old American will replace Ed Carpenter, who has left to form his own team. The Indianapolis-based team also announced a rebranding to SFHR thanks to new business partner Wink Hartman during a press conference held Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“You see so many guys who never get the opportunity, and for some reason, people have been looking down on me and giving me them,” Newgarden said. “I'm so excited for this day and this team. I think that's why everyone was so happy when they won at Kentucky. You couldn't be happier for these people and what they've achieved.”
Fisher said the team's full season program is not confirmed, but anticipated, for the team's 17 employees. She praised Newgarden's ability on all different disciplines of circuits and maturity level considering he's only 20.
“He has this 'guy next door' personality and such professionalism at 20 years old, and I wasn't close to that when I started at 19,” she said. “When we looked at the No. 67 driver, we wanted someone who could fit all the different disciplines. I think we have that.”
Hartman, a polo enthusiast whose family has roots in oil exploration and production, has been affiliated with SFHR since the team's 2008 inception – with Hartman Oil one of the team's associate sponsors. Sponsorship details for the effort were not announced, though.
Newgarden scored five wins en route to the Indy Lights title in a car fielded by Sam Schmidt Motorsports. He has been tipped for stardom as he rose through the Mazda Road to Indy ranks, after first gaining prominence when he was selected for the Team USA Scholarship in 2008 along with Conor Daly. Newgarden then spent two years racing in Europe, winning the Kent class of the Formula Ford Festival for Team USA, before returning to the U.S. He said he looked at a return to Europe, but wanted to continue the momentum he built winning the Indy Lights championship.
Fisher told the Indianapolis Star that her team has an engine contract in place, but that she is not yet ready to reveal which of the three engine suppliers her team will join forces with.
Meanwhile, the new Ed Carpenter Racing squad, which will be managed by Derrick Walker, has bolstered its technical staff by signing noted engineer Michael Cannon. Carpenter, who claimed his first win – and the first for Fisher's team – at Kentucky this year, plans to contest the full season.