I think Sarah Fisher made everyone collectively hold their breaths a couple of months ago when she announced – in Victory Lane at Kentucky after her first win as an owner no less – that the primary sponsor that had just helped them get in the winner’s circle was more than likely leaving the team at the end of the season.
Everyone can exhale now, as Fisher announced that she had formed a new partnership with businessman Wink Hartman to form Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, and that Indy Lights star Josef Newgarden would be their driver next season. While their schedule has yet to be completely formalized, it sounds like it will be a full-season effort.
It was good to hear that Fisher and her crew will be moving forward, especially in light of Newman/Haas’ departure from IndyCar racing. With an estimated $3 million outlay for the 2012 equipment, her team was one that could have fallen by the wayside had funding not been secured.
And from a business sense, it was imperative to keep Fisher and her team going in the series. It’s pretty obvious that her abilities as an owner are even more impressive than her considerable talents as a driver. She and her team get a lot out of a little, and it is very obvious that the organization knows what it is doing.
As we have seen with the departure of Newman/Haas, somewhere, someday the possibility exists that even the best teams won’t be a big dog forever. With their racing backgrounds and apparent business acumen, I think it is possible that people like Sarah Fisher, Ed Carpenter and Bryan Herta are the ones who could become the next generation of winning owners.
From a driving standpoint, they made a good decision with Newgarden. Though just 20 years old (he turns 21 on Dec. 22), he has been successful at every level in which he has driven, and after three seasons racing in Europe returned home last year won the Indy Lights title with five wins and 10 podium finishes. Despite his age he is more than ready to make the jump.
He also represents the new generation of drivers in that not only is he fast, he deals well with sponsors and is very media and social media (fan) friendly. And, he is an American. While that doesn’t matter to many (like me) who just want the best drivers in the best cars, it does to a faction of the fanbase, and from that side the series has been fortunate to have secured the services of (North) American drivers such as Newgarden and J.R. Hildebrand, not to mention Canadian James Hinchcliffe, who hopefully will find his next ride soon.
No doubt, the last couple of months have been up-and-down in terms of the happenings in the series, but with this announcement and the fact there is still a lot of jockeying left for the rest of the open seats, hopefully we head into the new year with plenty of good news and vibes for the future.