Southsider Voice correspondent
The merger of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing is a win-win situation for each IndyCar team.
In Milwaukee on Saturday, the teams announced their merger, with Carpenter’s team moving into SFHR headquarters on Main Street in Downtown Speedway. The merger reunites owner Sarah Fisher and driver Ed Carpenter, who nailed the first IndyCar triumph for Fisher’s team in 2011 at Kentucky Speedway.
“This is an evolution for each team,” SFHR team manager and Beech Grove native Andy O’Gara said. “Two cars are where you need to be in this sport to be successful.”
O’Gara, who’s married to Fisher, said the new team, known as CFH Racing, is a positive move for business, marketing, and sales development as well as the competition side. The merger unites team owners Fisher and Wink Hartman with former Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Tony George.
“We’re always looking for sponsors because we’re running on multimillion dollar budgets and always trying to make the cars go faster,” O’Gara said. “To say we merged to save money is far from the truth.”
Ed Carpenter Racing drivers Carpenter and Mike Conway have won three races this season, and Carpenter captured the 2013 pole for the Indianapolis 500. Third-year Fisher-Hartman driver Josef Newgarden knocked on the door for wins this year at Mid-Ohio and at Milwaukee but was plagued by mistakes in pit strategy.
Newgarden was second when he pitted for a splash of fuel and tires with only 14 laps to go in Sunday’s 250-lap race at the Milwaukee Mile. Newgarden dropped to 11th and rallied to finish fifth. Carpenter finished ninth, one lap off Will Power’s winning pace.
O’Gara is enthused by the merger (effective next year) because it solidifies the team’s identity in Speedway, less than a mile from the front entrance to IMS. The team’s headquarters and the next-door headquarters for IndyCar and Indy Lights car manufacturer Dallara provide the heart of motor sports facilities in Speedway.
“This merger definitely guarantees race team activity in the area,” O’Gara said. “With the facility that Hartman built and his dedication to the sport, it is bringing people to Main Street. This area is a mecca for IndyCar racing.”
Newgarden is sponsored by Direct Supply, Angie’s List and Hartman Oil among others. Carpenter’s main sponsor is Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka; he is ninth in owner points.
The Verizon IndyCar series resumes Sunday on the road course at Sonoma, Calif.
Kyle O’Gara leads series
The weekend was filled with more good news for the O’Gara family.
Andy’s younger brother, Kyle O’Gara, SFHR’s development driver, expanded his lead in the Honda United States Auto Club pavement midget series to 47 points over Kody Swanson by finishing seventh in a STARS midget race Saturday at Kalamazoo, Mich.
O’Gara finished second at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg earlier this season.
“He (Kyle) is doing a good job in a tough series,” Andy said. “He has confidence in the car; he’s having a lot of fun, and he’s knocking on the door for a win.”
The pavement series returns to Indiana on Sept. 6 at Anderson Speedway.