The CFH Racing team has become a regular threat during its first season in the Verizon IndyCar Series, and CFH driver Josef Newgarden can be credited for moving the Chevy-powered program into contention at most ovals and road courses.
The 24-year-old’s rise from a promising Indy Lights champion to a race-winning IndyCar driver has served as one of the better stories in 2015, and with his newfound success, heightened interest in his services has also arisen.
The Tennessean (LEFT) has been with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (now CFH Racing, in partnership with Ed Carpenter Racing) for all four seasons since he captured the 2011 Indy Lights title, but his name has been linked with possible drives at the two most prominent Chevy-powered teams in the paddock.
Just as Newgarden could fulfill a need for Chip Ganassi Racing or Team Penske in the future, CFH would like to hold onto their young charger, and with his current contract up for renewal, team co-owner Sarah Fisher says keeping Josef is a priority.
“It’s definitely a strong desire to have him back behind the wheel of the No. 67 car,” Fisher told RACER. “He’s definitely deserving of a team that’s going to give him the opportunity to win races, and I feel that we’ve done that and will continue to put him in that position. He’s a great athlete, he’s a great person, and we’ve built around him the past four years and we’d like to continue doing that.”
Fisher (RIGHT, with Wink Hartman) wouldn’t be drawn on the status of re-signing Newgarden, but did indicate they’re working through the process.
“There’s a lot that needs to fall in place to pull it all off and hopefully we can find a way to do that,” she added.
With Team Penske locked into its four-driver rotation for 2016, Chip Ganassi’s team has been mentioned as the most likely destination for Newgarden.
“I think it’s great they all have an interest in Josef,” Fisher said. “That’s the nicest compliment they can pay us because that means we’re doing a good job. He’s definitely someone to be sought after; what you see is what you get. In the racecar, he’s become extremely mature. I don’t feel like I need to be plugged in on the radio anymore. He’s on a whole different level.
“He works well with his engineers and mechanics and I’d love to go win a championship with him. And that’s what we’re focused on. We’re not worrying about what other teams are doing; as a past driver, I’d answer the phone if Roger or Chip called…”
Fisher, along with Carpenter, also hopes to have co-owner Wink Hartman, whose Hartman Oil company has served a primary sponsor of the No. 67 Chevy, stay with the team for years to come.
“Josef’s gotten a hell of an opportunity from Wink to grow and mature in the sport, and I’m very thankful to Wink for that,” she noted. “He’s been such a strong supporter and is such a big part of our family. He believes in us, and I can’t thank Wink and his wife Liva for all they continue to do.
“He’s been part of our program since 2008, and everybody’s seen the price of oil is horrible, but he’s still hanging with us. He’s also supported us looking for other sponsors, and we’re hoping to have Century 21 back next may, for example. I can’t wait to see what happens one we get into the off-season.”