Josef Newgarden

SONOMA, Calif. – Verizon IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden, who matched his career high by qualifying second for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, has re-signed with the team co-owned by Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman for the 2015 season.

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing announced Aug. 16 that they will merge for the 2015 season as CFH Racing.

Newgarden, in his third season driving the No. 67 entry, has posted a career high of second place at the Iowa Speedway oval in July and the Baltimore street course in September 2013. He finished sixth Aug. 24 on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma Raceway road course.

"Over the last three years, we have focused to build our team with Josef front and center and we are extremely excited to continue that progress into 2015," Fisher said. "In working with our guys, everyone is proud to build on the continuity that it takes to be successful in an increasingly competitive Verizon IndyCar Series. I know how much effort Josef and our team put toward being the best and am looking forward to delivering even more tools for them to work with at CFH Racing next year."

Newgarden, 23, of Hendersonville, Tenn., on Aug. 23 reached the Firestone Fast Six for the fifth time in his career. He’ll join Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, on the front row for the 85-lap GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. The season concludes Aug. 30 with the MAVTV 500 on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval. It is his third front-row start of the season.

"I'm really excited about the merger between Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing," Newgarden said. "Wink and Sarah extending an offer to keep me around for another year is first and foremost. They are the ones who gave me an opportunity to start my IndyCar career, and I'm happy to continue that with them for another year.

"I decided to stay here because I believe in our group and everything that we've built and where we are going. It's a very strong situation that's on the rise, and I think next year is the year to capitalize on it. Ed (Carpenter) has been one of the biggest guys who has helped me in my career so far in IndyCar. He was one of the first to stick his hand out and lend some advice. I really believe in Ed and his group and what they've done. I think he will add many strengths to our unit and that we will be one strong entity for the whole 2015 season."

Carpenter, driver/owner for Ed Carpenter Racing, said he’s looking forward to having Newgarden as part of the two-car team. Carpenter competes on ovals in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka car while Mike Conway has competed on road and street courses this season.

Ed Carpenter Racing has recorded three victories this season – by Carpenter at Texas Motor Speedway and by Conway at Long Beach and Toronto.

"I am very happy that Josef has signed with CFH Racing," Carpenter said. "I think he has shown great potential, and it is my hope that CFH Racing will help him fully reach his potential and that we can win many races together. I have seen Josef mature a lot over the past few years, and I really look forward to working with him and continuing his development. I see him as one of the premier talents in this series for the future, and we are very proud to have him on our team."

He said it

Scott Dixon's victory in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma was the 35th of his Indy car career, tying Bobby Unser for fifth on the all-time list.

Said Unser: "Scott Dixon is a very, very good driver and records are made to be broken. I've been watching Scott race for years. I've been watching Scott since he started racing Indy cars when he was real young and he was successful almost immediately. He's truly a great driver and drives with a lot of vigor. I am happy for Scott and at his young age I am sure he'll get another win or lots to pass our 35 Indy car wins we now share together. Scott's a racer, he truly know how to drive a car, for sure. I just wish (team owner) Chip (Ganassi) would give him a stock car, sprinter or midget to race in, I am sure he'd win in those too.  I am betting he'd win in anything he runs, if given the chance."

Gidley visits friends at track

Memo Gidley, who was seriously injured in a two-car incident during the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January at Daytona International Raceway, visited friends at Sonoma Raceway. He lives in Sausalito, Calif.

Gidley, 43, said he doesn't remember anything about the incident. He's undergone several surgeries and continues in physical therapy.

"It's nice to have light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

Of note

JD Souther, who was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame last year and is a cast member on the ABC show "Nashville," was a guest of Honda Racing. He took an Indy Racing experience two-seater ride on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course and visited with Newgarden. Both as spokesmen for Best Friends Animal Society. ... Newgarden led a lap for the fifth time this season, including three of the past four races. ... The 10 lead changes were the most in the 10 Verizon IndyCar Series races at Sonoma Raceway.