Road America IndyCar: Newgarden takes pole with ace strategy

Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Josef Newgarden landed his 13th pole and his third at Road America to best the field after sticking with Firestone’s harder primary tires in the final segment of qualifying.

Road America IndyCar: Newgarden takes pole with ace strategy

Firestone Fast Six

Colton Herta was the first driver to get below 1min47sec as the teams debated over whether to run used reds which were degrading rapidly, or the primary tires which were capable of squeezing out three rapid laps, even if the ‘peak’ lap wasn’t necessarily higher.

Only Newgarden and engineer Gavin Ward, who had seen their #2 Penske clock fastest times on either kind of tires in previous practice session, had the courage of their convictions and stuck to their primaries, and their reward was pole by almost quarter second over Herta’s Andretti Autosport-Honda, turning a 1min46.0186sec. Newgarden admitted he was surprised no one else had done the same.

Jack Harvey was an impressive third fastest in the Meyer Shank Racing-Honda, and will start alongside Will Power who switched toward Newgarden’s setup before qualifying.

Alex Palou’s car looked a handful on blacks or reds, but he will be the highest of the Chip Ganassi Racing Hondas, ahead of Simon Pagenaud in a third Penske-Chevy.

 

Q2

On black tires, Power, Pagenaud, Herta, Newgarden, Harvey and O’Ward was the top six, Power’s best time being 1min46.5745sec. Palou’s first flyer on reds was over four-tenths quicker than that, while Romain Grosjean’s Dale Coyne Racing with RWR-Honda fell a tenth short of that, before nailing a 1min45.9 with his next effort.

However, he was by no means safe, and the times tumbled in the last three minutes, with Jack Harvey nailing a brilliant 1min45.3612 to go 0.16sec faster than semi-teammate Colton Herta.

Behind him three Penske drivers and Alex Palou bumped Romain Grosjean out of the Firestone Fast Six shootout, although he was faster than two more Andretti-Hondas, those of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi.

Championship leader Pato O’Ward could only claim 10th for Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy, ahead of Bourdais and Jones.

 

Q1 Group 2

Max Chilton, Dalton Kellett and IndyCar debutant went straight out on reds. Meanwhile on blacks, Jack Harvey of Meyer Shank Racing-Honda clocked a 1min46.1294 on primaries, going half a second faster than Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi and seven tenths up on Pato O’Ward.

Then everyone dashed into the pits with just enough time to set a couple of flyers on the alternate compounds.

Newgarden was the first to deliver a ‘red’ time, landing a 1min46.0125sec, with Ed Jones of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan-Honda coming just 0.06sec short of beating it. Then Newgarden went 0.4sec quicker again, and this time it was teammate Will Power who fell just 0.06sec short.

Somehow Alexander Rossi found the gap between them to go second fastest, while Pato O’Ward landed fourth ahead of Jones and Harvey.

Not making it, surprisingly, were Graham Rahal, who had looked strong in the RLL-Honda in practice but came up a quarter-second short in qualifying, and Oliver Askew, subbing for the injured Rinus VeeKay at Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevy.

The latest new winner in the series, Marcus Ericsson, was only ninth fastest in the #8 Ganassi, ahead of Takuma Sato in the second RLL car.

Q1 Group 1

Colton Herta got down to a 1min46.0084 on Firestone primaries before pitting for fuel and soft red tires, 0.66sec ahead of his nearest opposition, the closest of which was Romain Grosjean.

On reds, Alex Palou was the first to deliver a representative time, with a 1min45.8821sec run, because Herta set the best time in Sector 1 but then made a mistake in Sector 2 while his tires were at their best. Nevertheless he eased off, saved his tires and made a second charge and hit the top of the times, 0.13sec ahead of Palou.

Sebastien Bourdais also advanced, while Simon Pagenaud’s #22 Penske did enough to bump out Scott Dixon, who had only run one lap on reds this morning, due to debris damaging his car’s underwing.

Also eliminated at this stage was Kevin Magnussen, substituting for Felix Rosenqvist in the #7 Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy who was 1.5sec off the ultimate pace, half a second up on Jimmie Johnson, who went straight out on reds.

Qualifying results:

Cla # Driver Team Time Gap
1 2 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 1'46.018  
2 26 United States Colton Herta Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian 1'46.261 0.243
3 60 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Meyer Shank Racing 1'46.720 0.702
4 12 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 1'46.823 0.805
5 10 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 1'46.863 0.844
6 22 France Simon Pagenaud United States Team Penske 1'47.127 1.108
7 51 France Romain Grosjean Dale Coyne Racing with RWR 1'45.901  
8 28 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay United States Andretti Autosport 1'45.951  
9 27 United States Alexander Rossi United States Andretti Autosport 1'46.103 0.085
10 5 Mexico Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP 1'46.106 0.088
11 14 France Sébastien Bourdais United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 1'46.222 0.203
12 18 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 1'46.227 0.208
13 9 New Zealand Scott Dixon United States Chip Ganassi Racing 1'46.342 0.324
14 15 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1'46.277 0.259
15 20 United States Conor Daly United States Ed Carpenter Racing 1'46.397 0.379
16 21 United States Oliver Askew United States Ed Carpenter Racing 1'46.290 0.271
17 3 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 1'46.862 0.843
18 8 Sweden Marcus Ericsson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 1'46.406 0.388
19 29 Canada James Hinchcliffe Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1'47.029 1.010
20 30 Japan Takuma Sato United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1'46.513 0.494
21 7 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Arrow McLaren SP 1'47.377 1.359
22 59 United Kingdom Max Chilton United Kingdom Carlin 1'46.555 0.536
23 48 United States Jimmie Johnson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 1'47.788 1.770
24 4 Canada Dalton Kellett United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 1'46.978 0.960
25 52 United States Cody Ware Dale Coyne Racing with RWR 1'47.732 1.713
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