INDIANAPOLIS – Josef Newgarden is eager to officially get the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season underway. After a great beginning to his Verizon IndyCar Series with Sarah Fisher/Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing, the Tennessee native has joined Team Penske to further his career.
Now, the real work begins in St. Pete, as it’s the first official race of the 2017 season.
With that being said, Newgarden comes to a team that has won eight Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete races in 12 years of trying, including the last three straight and four of the last five. They’ve also led 90-percent of the overall laps on the streets of St. Pete the last two years as well.
The car Newgarden is driving, well it has only won the last two races in St. Pete as Juan Pablo Montoya went to victory lane in 2015 and again in the 2016 season opener.
Now, Newgarden gets his shot.
The only problem is, Newgarden has typically struggled there. In five career St. Pete starts, he has just one top 10 finish and that was a ninth place effort in 2014. His other finishes are 11th, 23rd, 12th and 22nd. Two of those four were DNF’s including an electrical issue last year.
So, something has got to give. Will Newgarden thrive in that ride that has led a combined 71 laps the last two years at St. Pete including winning both races, or will Newgarden still struggle?
The pressure is on, but I have a feeling he will succeed with flying colors.