Five thoughts on why the Sarah Fisher Hartman signing of Alex Tagliani is a good thing:
1) Tag can be quick at Indy.
Through five Indy 500s, Alex Tagliani has an average starting position of 12.2—which skyrockets to 7.0 if you knock out his freshman qualifying mess. Granted, he hasn’t finished as well in the race itself (average finish of P17, with one Top 10), but with his ability to get around Indy, he’ll give you at least a puncher’s chance out there. We know SFHR knows how to set up a car on the big ovals, and that, coupled with Tag’s ability to bring it in qualifying, could mean a big payoff with the #68 car come the end of May.
2) He’ll be an experienced teammate for Josef Newgarden.
Newgarden was quick in qualifications his rookie year, but with then-teammate Bryan Clauson, he was paired with a fellow rookie, which probably limited some of the shared knowledge he might have otherwise have been able to attain. Last year, he was the sole SFHR entrant at Indy, and that fact very apparently didn’t do him any favors. That will be far from the case this year, as Tagliani provides plenty of experience for the team overall. A second car with a veteran driver can be a huge boost for a team if they happen to get lost or struggle—or to help them get that edge needed to move up a few rows.
3) He’s one of the best available.
I covered some of the free agents with DW12 experience available for Indy, but honestly, in terms of overall experience, Tag has to rate near the top of that list. SFHR won’t be dealing with a raw rookie, or someone who’s been out of a car for a few years. They’ll have a well-experienced driver with ample DW12 success and seat time. In terms of who was available, SFHR put together a very good deal for their team here. There are a lot of drivers that would have a pretty decent interest/intrigue factor, but precious few with the experience or resumé of Tagliani.
4) Fans get a friend.
If you’ve been to any IndyCar fan event over the past few years, you know Alex Tagliani is one of the best at fan engagement. He and his wife have been regulars at multiple charitable events and IndyCar fan meet-ups, and whether he’s on the pole or struggling on track, it doesn’t seem to affect his participation. I’m guessing he’ll be a lively participant once again for the fans this May, and as accessible as always.
5) It works out perfectly for a Paul Tracy return.
Seriously, it’s like peanut butter and chocolate—or is it oil and water? Rumors are we might see PT back at Indy, and if it pans out, it makes this signing even better. Sure, they might say they’re all cool now, but everyone remembers their “run-ins” on and off the track. In a year where we’re already seeing Jacques Villeneuve, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Kurt Busch in the 500 field, having PT, Tag, and Sebastien Bourdais just seems a perfect fit. We are going to have some Strong Feelings on Racing Topics, I think.
Of course, there’s also the always-welcome Bronte Tagliani. On that account, we know Robin Miller, at least, will be very happy this May. If Tag shows the speed he’s capable of, Sarah Fisher’s whole team might be, too.