Newgarden to start on front row at Mid-Ohio
Ties his season-best qualifying effort.
Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) tied his season best Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying performance today and will start second in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sunday, Aug. 3.
Newgarden turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 24.6787 seconds in the final round of Firestone Fast 6 knockout style qualifying in wet conditions after a thunderstorm passed through Central Ohio just before qualifications began.
Newgarden's final lap time was five tenths of a second shy of pole sitter Sebastian Bourdais (1:24.1610).
"I think the rain helped a little bit to spread the field out because it's so tight," Newgarden said. "I felt confident after our test here last week and I think we have a much better package this year than we did last year.
"It was just about managing traffic out there today. We were far down in pit lane so we had a lot of traffic every time we went out. Fortunately we were able to pull out a good, clean lap. You couldn't have any mistakes today."
As track conditions began to dry in the final round of Firestone Fast 6 qualifying, SFHR and Newgarden discussed the possibility of switching to alternate red tires, replacing the Firestone rain tires.
"That last run was really difficult to judge if we were going to risk it and go on reds," Newgarden said. "The good thing was we made it to the 'Fast 6' so worst case scenario we were going to start sixth. I think the smart thing to do was stay on wets. That's what everyone else did, it seemed like the right move and we just missed pole by a bit."
Tire choice will be critical
Newgarden along with the rest of the Verizon IndyCar field will have three sets of alternate red tires available for Sunday's 90-lap race at Mid Ohio's 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course. Newgarden believes starting up front will be key.
"Mid-Ohio is so difficult to pass," he said. "It really is one of the toughest places we go. Strategy can make a difference here if you start in the back but the best thing to do around this place is to start up front. We've achieved the first objective, now we have to bring it home and score good points."
To watch SFHR strive for its first win with Newgarden in the cockpit, tune into NBC Sports Network at 3 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Aug. 3.
Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio qualifying results
Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio post-qualifying quote sheet