Firestone Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden has been announced as the first driver for the newly-renamed Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Team for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, signing a three-season deal.
Newgarden, 20, will graduate from the feeder series after winning the 2011 title for Sam Schmidt Motorsports by way of taking five victories and five additional podiums from thirteen race starts, including the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The season highlight was no doubt at Loudon, where Newgarden was particularly dominant, becoming the first driver in seven years to lap the entire field on the way to victory. He will become the second Lights champion in the last three seasons to graduate to the top flight, joining JR Hildebrand who is contesting his second season in 2012 with Panther Racing.
Sarah Fisher said of her new recruit: “Josef has a great brand and is a true champion. We very much look forward to working with him both on and off track.”
The new team name stems from Fisher welcoming Kansas businessman and previously silent partner Wink Hartman to the team as full partner. Speaking at the announcement, Hartman said: “It shows Sarah’s continued growth in selecting Josef to be the driver for the future of the team. We look forward to a great 2012 season with Josef behind the wheel.”
The team are currently finalising Newgarden’s schedule, although it is anticipated the team will be able to run a full season. As yet, no word has been provided on whether they will run a second car full-time or which manufacturer will supply their engines.
[Article by Matt Lennon; image via Motor Authority]