Story Credit: INDYCAR PR
Photo Credit: INDYCAR Photo
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (Saturday, June 23, 2018) – Josef Newgarden put himself in the best position to get his bid for a second straight Verizon IndyCar Series championship back on track by winning the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying for the KOHLER Grand Prix.
Newgarden’s last lap in the Firestone Fast Six – the third and final round of knockout qualifying – edged Team Penske teammate Will Power for the pole position that went to one of Roger Penske’s drivers at Road America for the third straight year.
“It’s nice when you have the car to do it,” Newgarden said after a lap of 1 minute, 43.2026 seconds (140.020 mph) in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet earned the 2017 series champion his fifth career pole and third this season.
Fifth in this year’s standings after nine of 17 races, Newgarden picked up a bonus point for winning the pole and moved within 67 points of championship leader Scott Dixon heading into Sunday’s 55-lap race on the 4.014-mile, 14-turn permanent road course.
“We had the speed on Friday (in practice), so to finish it off today (in qualifying) is nice,” Newgarden said. “It’s only Goal 1. Two races: one for pole, one for the race. We need to close it out.”
Power, the 2016 Road America race winner from the pole, put the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet in the second qualifying spot with a lap of 1:43.2508 (139.954 mph). The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion has qualified in the top six for all 10 races this season and starts on the front row for a sixth time in 2018.
“We struggled in the first two rounds of qualifying, then got the car right at the end there,” said Power, winner of the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May who is third in the standings. “So yeah, happy with the front-row start. Obviously this year I’ve had plenty of front-row starts, missing out by hundredths of seconds, so I’ve got to change something.”
Newgarden’s pole position is the 10th for Team Penske at Road America in 27 Indy car races at the historic track. It is Indy car pole No. 260 for the team that entered the sport in 1968.
Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi will share the second row on the grid after qualifying third and fourth, respectively. For Hunter-Reay, it was a season-best qualifying effort in the No. 28 DHL Honda.
“I thought I had a lap that was going to be close enough for pole at the end, and just had a bit of a bobble through (Turn) 12,” said Hunter-Reay, the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion whose best finish in four Road America starts was fourth place. “Just a little bit light out there on the used reds (Firestone alternate tires) and just came up a bit short, but we can definitely work on it from third.”
Twenty-three cars will take the green flag in Sunday’s race. Live coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.