Retaining rising star Josef Newgarden might be the least of the problems for IndyCar team owners Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter.
CFH Racing is just one of the IndyCar Series teams desperately looking for money.
The team’s biggest financial supporter, Wink Hartman, seems to be positioning himself to scale down his IndyCar cash outlay.
“My business has gone to hell lately so I can’t promise anybody anything right now,” Hartman, the owner of Hartman Oil, told Racer.com this week.
“It’s a cash flow business and right now there’s no cash flow, and this is the fourth time I’ve been on this roller coaster,” he added, referring to declining oil prices.
Fisher and husband, CFH team manager Andy O’Gara, merged with Ed Carpenter’s IndyCar this year. They’re hunting sponsors to try to compensate for what might be lost due to Hartman’s scaling back. They’ll need to raise several million dollars in sponsorships to retain Newgarden and field a competitive car for him to drive next year.
It costs $5 million to $8 million annually to field one car for one IndyCar Series season. It’s unclear how much Hartman was funding, but sources within the IndyCar paddock estimate it at a healthy seven-figure amount.
“It’s been a big challenge for a lot of [IndyCar] teams,” Fisher told IBJ. “We’re all chasing sponsorship dollars.”
Fisher doesn’t think Hartman—who has backed Fisher since 2008—will pull all his support.
“He loves IndyCar racing,” Fisher told Racer. “Like everyone else, it’s tough out there right now but I don’t see him disappearing from here.”
The team has every intention of running two cars—again—next year and Carpenter said retaining Newgarden is a top priority.
Other top IndyCar teams—including Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Andretti Autosport—are also interested in employing the up-and-coming driver. Honda badly wants to have Newgarden racing one of its engines next year, and might be willing to throw some money behind the effort to get him. CFH runs Chevrolet engines while Rahal Letterman and Andretti run Hondas.
Newgarden, 24, won two races this year and led a series-high 345 laps this IndyCar season.