Prospects of a strong result in the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle for the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car and driver Josef Newgarden appeared bleak after starting 25th because of an engine change between practice and qualifications.
But the 22-year-old sophomore IZOD IndyCar Series driver advanced 20 positions through some deft racing and attrition. Other big movers in the 75-lap race on the temporary street circuit were Simon Pagenaud (23rd to ninth), Takuma Sato (12th to second) and Oriol Servia (13th to season-best fourth).
"I thought we had a really strong race and a top five is really good going into Indy," said Newgarden, who recorded his best IZOD IndyCar Series result. "Given where we started, that's exactly what we wanted to do, score solid points and get some momentum going into the 500. I think we've absolutely done that."
Newgarden moved into contention by overtaking eventual race winner James Hinchcliffe on a Lap 60 restart – trailing front-runner Sato by .1535 of a second at the completion of the lap on the 1.536-mile, 11-turn temporary street course. He displayed patience over the next 10 laps, holding his position and staying in striking range of the Long Beach winner (.5285 of a second back on Lap 70).
Hinchcliffe regained second by passing Newgarden in Turn 11 of Lap 72, and the No. 67 car on worn tires was overtaken by Marco Andretti and Servia on the final lap.
"It was a little bit of a disappointment," Newgarden said. "I think we had a better car than fifth. You have to take what you can sometimes. We're really pleased at all of the hard work that gets put in from everyone here. It's good to get representative results. We'll try to take that momentum and do well at the ‘500.’ "