Newgarden takes dramatic pole in final seconds in Detroit

Newgarden takes dramatic pole in final seconds in Detroit

Josef Newgarden saved the best for last and won the NTT P1 Award for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear during his final flying lap of qualifying on Saturday at Raceway at Belle Isle Park.

Newgarden’s best lap in the Firestone Fast Six was 1 minute 15.2153 seconds in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. It was his first pole of the season and his first NTT P1 Award since the season-closing Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in September 2021. Another driver took pole in all seven NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season.

TO SEE: Qualifying Results

“I was loose; I was about to hit the wall at every corner,” said two-time series champion Newgarden of his pole lap on the temporary street circuit of 14 turns, 2.35 miles. “I think we needed two laps to get up to temperature (in the Firestone tyres). I just struggled to build up temp.

“It was so loose, and I thought, ‘You should just stay in it.’ “I knew the track had more grip. That was a good pole. Sometimes the car is just so good it plugs in. I was loose today, and we put it together. I’m really proud of the team.”

Live coverage of the 70-lap race begins Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network, Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato will join Newgarden on the front row of the race after his top lap of 1:15.3490 in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda, one of two Dale Coyne Racing cars to create the Firestone Fast Six.

2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud led a Meyer Shank Racing monopoly on the second row and qualified third at 1:15.3951 in the No. 60 Auto Nation/Sirius XM Honda. Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves starts fourth after his best lap of 1:15.4538 in the No. 06 Auto Nation/Sirius XM Honda.

Pato O’Ward, runner-up in the 2022 Indy 500, will start fifth at 1:16.301 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, while rookie David Malukas completed the Firestone Fast Six with a best lap of 1:16.6004 in the No. 18 HMD Honda handled by Dale Coyne Racing. It was a career-high starting spot for Malukas, whose previous best was 13th for the Indianapolis 500 last month.

Six-time series champion Scott Dixon, 2022 race winner Colton Herta and 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi were prevented from progressing to the Firestone Fast Six when Romain Grosjean crashed in the closing seconds of the second qualifying lap.

Grosjean’s No. 28 Zapata/DHL Honda clipped the barrier inside Turn 12, breaking a toe joint in the suspension and causing the car to spin and contact the barrier on the outside of the corner. Grosjean was uninjured, but the car sustained heavy damage.

“It was quite a hit,” Grosjean said. “We feasted. I do not know why. We were very good in FP1 (Friday), very good this morning, and the car let it go. I do not know why.”

Herta will start seventh in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda, Dixon ninth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and Rossi 11th in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda. Rossi was fastest overall in pre-qualifying practice on Saturday morning.

Another driver to miss out on the Firestone Fast Six was Marcus Ericsson, winner of the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge last Sunday. He will start eighth in the number 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, a victim of the traffic jam of drivers trying to find a track position for a final flying lap.

Kyle Kirkwood, Will Power and reigning series champion Alex Palou were the top drivers not to advance to the second qualifying round.

Kirkwood starts 15th as his eventful weekend continues. He led practice on Friday, but his No. 14 ROKiT/AJ FOYT RACING Chevrolet sniffed the tire barrier in Turn 7 after side contact with David Malukas during practice on Saturday morning.

The 2014 series champion and qualifying maestro Power will start 16th in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, while Palou will start 18th in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

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