Team owner Sarah Fisher on the stand at Indianapolis - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
American Honda and Honda Performance Development (HPD) stepped to the plate to power the DW12 Dallara for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) with Josef Newgarden at the wheel.
The addition of SFHR was made possible when Bobby Rahal, team principal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, agreed to the transfer of the team's second engine contract to SFHR, giving HPD and Honda a complement of 10 full-time Indy car entries for the season.
"We deeply appreciate Bobby's generous offer to forego his second full-season lease in order to ensure that Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing will be on the grid from the start of the season. We were happy to help facilitate this change," said Steve Eriksen, vice president of HPD. "We're pleased to be able to continue our relationship with Sarah and her growing team and we look forward to a successful rookie season from Josef, following on the heels of his outstanding championship season in Indy Lights last year."
The most recent winners on the Indy car circuit at Kentucky Speedway last year with former driver Ed Carpenter, SFHR has been in discussions with Honda since last season.
"I'm delighted that it finally came together. My heart has been in INDYCAR for several years and I couldn't be more thrilled to enter a season as a full-time owner," Fisher admitted. "I'd also like to give special thanks to Indy 500 winner and IZOD IndyCar Series owner Bobby Rahal for helping us initiate our 2012 partnership with Honda. Bobby once again personified the definition of a gentleman and sportsman, remembering how we helped his son Graham. This is a wonderful example of paying it forward."
In 2010, Fisher stepped from the cockpit for four races in order to give Graham Rahal the opportunity to race. That helped Rahal stay in the game and helped him land his current ride with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2011; through Fisher's introduction, Rahal met his current sponsor Service Central.
Newgarden will drive the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone Indy car at the open test March 8-9 on the Sebring International road course; the team has other private tests scheduled before the season opener late next month at St Petersburg, FL. Newgarden, 21, expressed his pleasure and relief at the news: "I'm thrilled to get the chance to race the entire season," he said. "This is a dream come true, thanks to Honda and the unwavering support of Sarah's fans. I can't wait for St Petersburg!"
Rahal stated what everyone who follows Indy car racing already knows: "Sarah Fisher is a class act and so is everyone at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. The team did great things for Graham when he didn't have a program and I am happy we were in a position to help her."