IZOD leaving IndyCar at end of 2013

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Two major, but not terribly unexpected, IndyCar pieces of news have just emerged this Friday.

The first is that series title sponsor IZOD, who assumed the role in 2010 after beginning its partnership in 2008, will leave its role at the end of the year.

“We are proud of our partnership with IZOD over the past six years and we’re grateful to PVH Corp., owner of the IZOD brand, for its support, creativity and vision,” Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent company of INDYCAR, said in a statement. “But circumstances change and now we’re seeking new partnerships with brands looking to align with the fastest, most versatile form of racing. We are combining and strengthening our commercial functions at INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which will allow us to more aggressively pursue new opportunities for our sport.”

The aforementioned “circumstances change” refers to a change at the top of IZOD’s parent company, Phillips-Van Heusen. Allen Sirken, the former head, was a fan of IZOD expanding its horizons into IndyCar first via a personal services agreement with Ryan Hunter-Reay, that later blossomed into the title sponsorship.

RHR ran a partial 2009 season with Vision Racing and a full 2010 with Andretti Autosport in IZOD colors. IZOD’s activation was prevalent and obvious for 2010 and 2011.

But a two-year drawdown as Sirken exited the building and a change at the top occurred meant the new regime wasn’t keen on continuing the partnership. As it is, IZOD leaves a year early, ahead of the fifth year of its contract.

“After an exciting relationship that has been as enjoyable and fast-paced as INDYCAR itself, PVH Corp. has made the decision to not continue IZOD’s title sponsorship with IndyCar beyond the 2013 season,” said Mike Kelly, Executive Vice President, The PVH Marketing Group. “As we and our retail partners shift the IZOD brand’s product focus, we need to shift our marketing spend to complement it. We would like to thank the IndyCar community, from the amazing fans, to the incredible drivers, to the entire series, for their partnership. We wish the series all the best and we look forward to finishing out the 2013 season with much success.”

IndyCar did not have a title sponsor last in 2009; it’s likely a search will occur for a replacement, possibly with existing series partners.

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.

Results are below. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama rolls off at 3:00 p.m. ET.