By: RYAN MORGAN
The NBC Sports broadcasters (Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and David Hobbs) make reference to Josef Newgarden as the “Young American” about every five minutes during Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. How anyone doesn’t think of the great David Bowie song of the same name after hearing “Young American” over and over again is beyond my comprehension. The song is fantastic, and now it’s stuck in my head. And boy, oh boy, do the broadcasters have plenty of time to talk about the Nashville, Ten., native. he starts second on the grid and is running in the top-three nearly the entire race, having one of the best runs in his three-year Verizon IndyCar career.
He is running second late in the race, breathing down the neck of three-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, the racer they call “Iceman.” A great story is unfolding — Newgarden: hunting down his first IndyCar win vs. Dixon: hunting down his 33rd-career victory in the series. Newcomer vs. Legend. Sara Fisher Hartman Racing vs. Chip Ganassi. The little man vs. the proven champion. Oh, it is going to be a great finish.
And then Newgarden makes his final pit stop.
The Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team has to make a flawless stop to help give its driveer a chance at victory. Instead, the pit crew turns in a performance worthy of a Three Stooges episode. It is almost funny to watch if one doesn’t feel so bad for the young American driver sitting in the driver’s seat.
In a complete oversight to detail, the rear tire changer leaves a portion of air hose laying out in the pit box prior to the stop, in the very area Newgarden will have to drive through in order to get four fresh Firestones. Newgarden runs over the air hose and comes to a stop in the box. The rear tire changer charges out to change right-side tires only to be thrown to the ground, as the slack needed in the hose now sits underneath the No. 67 Honda. The pit stop seems to take forever, and all the while, the Iceman drives farther and farther away toward victory. The rear-tire changer, stunned from his sudden fall, looks dazed as he gets to his feet, only to find himself wrapped up in the air hose. He manages to unwrap hmself and do his job, but it is already too late.
Victory is lost for the young American. Newgarden finishes 12th.
“Gee, my life’s a funny thing. Am I still too young?” — David Bowie
Maybe Newgarden asked himself the same question after the race. He is, after all, only 23 years of age. If Sunday’s race showed us anything, it’s the potential he has at becoming a big star in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Here is to the Young American, young American, he is a young American. . . . I still can’t get the song out of my head.