Indy 500 Notes: Newgarden raises the bar

IndyCar rookie breaks the 222 mph barrier in Monday practice

IZOD IndyCar Series rookie Josef Newgarden is acclimating quite nicely to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — and may also be turning into a potential dark horse for the Indianapolis 500.

The Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing driver led his second practice session of the Month of May on Monday, turning a quick lap of 222.486 mph in the No. 67 Dollar General Honda as he and other competitors looked to see how their Dallara DW12s reacted in the draft.

“It looks like everyone was trying to race runs, and we kind of jumped in, as well,” said Newgarden. “It was a lot of fun. It was good to run out there with the guys, and I think we need to do more of that probably and figure out how the car operates in the draft a little bit.

“Certainly learned a lot of the way it reacts today, and we just got to keep progressing with and trying to make it even more comfortable during the race. Obviously, that’s the important time.”

Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay (221.639) and Marco Andretti (221.519) took their Chevrolet-powered cars to second and third on the charts respectively. RHR was one of the many that looked for a steady car around others.

“We ran on our own most of the day just trying to sort out some pretty big setup changes, and then at the end we ran in a group with our teammates here, and a few others joined in,” said Hunter-Reay. “Everybody is trying to run in groups and get that feel for the car in traffic, and I think we accomplished that today with the DHL Sun Drop car.”

2008 Indy winner Scott Dixon was fourth-fastest at 221.499 mph, while Andretti one-off Sebastian Saavedra posted the fifth-quickest lap at 220.785 mph.

Speaking of Marco Andretti, his No. 26 RC Cola squad has a new leader in the pit box with Kyle Moyer calling the shots there after team owner Michael Andretti (Marco’s father) moved over to work with Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 DHL/Sun Drop team.

According to Marco, the fact that both he and his dad (who called Marco’s first three races of 2012 before the change was made in Brazil) share fiery personalities on the track proved to be a hindrance instead of a help.

“It’s better for the team,” he said. “Dad and I are very passionate. Our work environment might be a little more hectic for others because we always shouting at each other. We still get the job done, but we’re always shouting at each other. We just wanted to make it nicer. I’m a very animated person on the radio and so is he, and that’s why it didn’t work.”

Moyer, a longtime Andretti hand, seems to be balancing things out for Marco, who comes into Indianapolis after a subpar four races (best finish: 11th) to begin the 2012 campaign.

“I’ll be flipping out about something, and [Moyer will] say, ’10-4′,” said Marco. “It’s jelling a lot better.”

As the Honda Indy Toronto announced that it would continue racing through 2014, INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard appeared to give a sign of how important Canada will be in helping the series expand its North American presence.

James Christie of The Globe and Mail, a Canadian national daily, has reported that Bernard mentioned Vancouver, Calgary and Quebec City as being, in Christie’s words, “on the radar screen,” for future events. Vancouver hosted Champ Car from 1990 to 2004 under the Molson Indy Vancouver banner.

However, Christie also stresses in the same piece that Bernard called it “premature” to identify the three cities as potential sites.

“It would be great to have another race in Canada,” Bernard said in the piece, “but we want to concentrate on making Edmonton and Toronto the two best races we could have.”

Other cool stuff

Alex Tagliani’s No. 98 Barracuda Networks/Bryan Herta Autosport Honda will feature the logo of the famous Gumball 3000 road rally. This year’s Gumball run, taking place on May 25-31, will stretch from New York to Los Angeles — with a stop at Indianapolis to have the Gumballers accompany Tagliani’s machine on the grid before the start of the Indy 500…

Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe has his own craft beer. Indianapolis-based microbrewery Flat 12 Bierworks has created the “Hinchtown Hammer Down Lager” in honor of the Canadian driver, who currently sits third in IZOD IndyCar Series points. The final name of the brew was chosen by ‘Hinch’ after contests on Twitter and Facebook allowed fans to post their own ideas on what to call it…

Matt Scheidler, a former webmaster for Indianapolis radio stations WIBC and WFNI, has set out to create a primary online source for Indy 500 videos at The new site, which brings together quality videos from YouTube and other sites, allows visitors to search for clips by driver and by year. The videos range from ‘500’ race broadcasts to TV and online interviews with competitors…

Quotes/materials taken from series trackside reports were used in the making of this article.