Josef Newgarden after a practice session - Anne Proffit photo
Likely the most buoyant memory for fans of the IZOD IndyCar Series last fall was the sight of a black and yellow Indy car winning the Kentucky Speedway race with Ed Carpenter at the wheel. The Dallara/Honda/Firestone Indy car had sponsorship from Dollar General; it was the last race for Sarah Fisher Racing with Carpenter at the wheel and Dollar General announced it wouldn't be back in 2012 shortly thereafter.
But not so fast!
In the interim, Sarah Fisher added Wink Hartman as a partner to form Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR), Nashville, Tennessee's Josef Newgarden, the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights Series champion joined SFHR as rookie driver in the team's Dallara/Honda/Firestone 2012 entry and SFHR moved to a new home in Speedway, Indiana, just shouting distance to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now, to complete the good news, Dollar General announced it's coming back - to the 96th Indianapolis 500 on May 27.
"Dollar General is excited to once again partner with Sarah and her team for the Indy 500 in the 96th running of this iconic race," said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General CEO. "We look forward to having Dollar General represented in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
With its victory last October 11th on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval, SFHR is the most recent IZOD IndyCar Series team to win on an oval. They're eager to return to the home track with Dollar General's familiar black and yellow colors.
"I am honored to welcome Dollar General back to our team for the Indianapolis 500," said Sarah Fisher. "The privilege we have to continue the relationship with a company that stood behind us during the tough times at the start of our team means a great deal to me. This opportunity is a direct result of the fantastic relationships SFHR maintains with its partners."
SFHR is a small team staking a name for itself among the heavyweight squads in its chosen series, with a total of 21 full-time employees. In the first three races of the year - all on road or street courses - the team has been consistently quick on track and has shown it can continually do more with less.
Newgarden started on the outside of the front row for the 38th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - in only his third IZOD IndyCar Series start. He's eager to return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he won the prestigious 2011 Freedom 100 in Firestone Indy Lights.
"Indianapolis is such a challenge," he said. "You can go around that track 200 times and learn something new about your car or yourself as a driver on each lap." The 21-year-old's hometown of Hendersonville, TN is a neighbor to Goodlettsville where Dollar General has its headquarters, so he should feel right at home in a Dollar General car.
During the month of May at Indianapolis, the No. 67 Indy car driven by Newgarden features the familiar livery of black and yellow Dollar General colors that SFHR fans are accustomed to seeing. "It will be exciting for our fans to once again see the black and yellow No. 67 attempt to bring home a victory at the Indianapolis 500," Fisher stated.