De Silvestro shakes recent rough stretch with an improved weekend

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Perhaps the final result wasn’t what she or the KV Racing Technology team was looking for, but for the first time in what seems like months, Simona de Silvestro was closer to the top end of the IZOD IndyCar Series grid at Mid-Ohio.

De Silvestro started ninth and finished 11th after a day spent mostly around the top seven or eight. It’s been a rough stretch for de Silvestro in the No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva Chevrolet since a respectable first four races. Over the last nine races prior to Mid-Ohio, she had only two starts better than 17th and two finishes better than 14th.

“It was an ok result. I wish we could have finished a little bit further up, but we didn’t quite have the pace we should have during the second stint,” said the popular Swiss driver. “We were in a bit of traffic in the beginning which didn’t help either. But, I think there are a lot of positive things that we can take away from this race and hopefully we do learn from it. It was good that we were running with the fast guys this weekend; the whole weekend. Now we can just look at the books again and hopefully we’ll do better next one.”

Next up for de Silvestro is Sonoma, a race she actually missed in 2011 after an issue with border patrol while re-entering the U.S., and a race she metaphorically missed in 2012 while saddled with the down on power Lotus engine. Given her pace on the road courses at Barber and Mid-Ohio, it could be a good track for her.

KVRT-SH teammate Tony Kanaan had a miserable Mid-Ohio weekend by contrast. In the last of his four races with Sunoco and “Turbo” sponsorship, Kanaan was the lone retiree on the day.

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.