04/22 2018


First pole of 2018 for defending IndyCar Series champion and two-time Grand Prix of Alabama winner


Josef Newgarden is Tennessee-born and a North Carolina resident, but Barber Motorsports Park will always be “Sweet Home, Alabama” to the defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion.

The two-time Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner took the pole for Sunday’s fourth race of the season. Newgarden’s pole came in Saturday’s Firestone “Fast Six,” with a fast time of 1:07.4413 around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course in the No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet.

He beat Team Penske teammate Will Power by 0.0128 of a second. Power’s fast time was 1:07.4541 (122.750 mph) in another Chevrolet.

“Tim (Cindric, Team Penske president and Newgarden’s race strategist) was telling me when I came in what the lap time was,” Newgarden said. “I didn’t know if that was going to be enough.  It was a good lap.”

Newgarden won the pole on a used set of Firestone Reds, a softer tire built for speed.

 “Actually, I like this set of tires a little bit better than the others,” Newgarden said. “You almost have a favorite sometimes with the Firestones, but they held up well. I think Will had a slight advantage because he didn’t have to do a hot lap on his, but I knew our car was quick.

“After I saw the time we did on this set of tires, I knew we had a shot at it.”

It’s Newgarden’s first Verizon P1 Award of 2018 and the third pole of Newgarden’s Indy car career.

“It’s important,” Newgarden said. “I think whenever you get the pole it’s a good day.  It shows the speed of the car, it shows the work that everyone at Team Penske has put in, but when you have weather it’s even better.  You want to start up front with the spray.

“So hopefully, that brings us a little good luck tomorrow and we will try and finish this thing off right.”

Rain, heavy at times, is expected for Sunday’s race which could create some very interesting conditions for the drivers in the 90-lap race.

“It’s going to get mixed up with the rain,” Newgarden admitted. “So, I think the first part of this weekend is done.  We just need to focus on tomorrow now and see how we are going to get through the weather.”

A Team Penske driver has won eight of the nine poles here at Barber Motorsports Park. Power in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2017; Helio Castroneves in 2012 and 2015 and Simon Pagenaud in 2016.

For Power, it’s his eighth front row start at Barber Motorsports Park. He is the only driver to appear in every Firestone Fast Six session in 2016.

Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan, was third at 1:07.5337 (122.605 mph) in a Honda followed by Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay in another Honda at 1:07.7807 (122.159 mph). Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe was fifth in a Honda at 1:07.9472 (121.859 mph) and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon was sixth in a Honda at 1:08.0303 (121.710 mph).

Last week’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach winner, Alexander Rossi, starts eighth after a fast time of 1:07.7488 (122.216 mph). That’s just behind Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti, the fastest of the non-Fast Six driver with a time at 1:07.6027 (122.480 mph).

  1. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:07.4413 (122.773 mph)
  2. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 1:07.4541 (122.750)
  3. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 1:07.5337 (122.605)
  4. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 1:07.7807 (122.159)
  5. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 1:07.9472 (121.859)
  6. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 1:08.0303 (121.710)
  7. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 1:07.6027 (122.480)
  8. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 1:07.7488 (122.216)
  9. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 1:07.8409 (122.050)
  10. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 1:07.8455 (122.042)
  11. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 1:07.9894 (121.784)
  12. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 1:08.4386 (120.984)
  13. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 1:08.0235 (121.723)
  14. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 1:08.5494 (120.789)
  15. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:08.1038 (121.579)
  16. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 1:08.5531 (120.782)
  17. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 1:08.1184 (121.553)
  18. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 1:08.5676 (120.757)
  19. (20) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 1:08.3997 (121.053)
  20. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 1:08.9763 (120.041)
  21. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 1:08.5516 (120.785)
  22. (32) Rene Binder, Chevrolet, 1:09.5404 (119.067)
  23. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 1:11.2015 (116.290)