Filippi, Newgarden deliver CFHR’s first double top-10 of 2015

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For a second consecutive race, CFH Racing’s pair of Luca Filippi and Josef Newgarden were quietly consistent and in the top dozen of the 24-car Verizon IndyCar Series field.

Whereas Filippi stealthily scythed up from 19th to ninth at St. Petersburg, and Newgarden was 12th, the pair both ended in the top-10 in Sunday’s inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana with Newgarden ninth and Filippi 10th.

It marks the first time this season and first time as the merged CFH Racing, combining the Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing teams, that both cars have been in the top 10 in the same race.

Filippi, driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, explained post-race that realistically the pair were on target for top-five or top-six finishes without the off-sequence strategy that jumbled the order.

“It wasn’t so much of an effort today,” Filippi told MotorSportsTalk post-race. “I think we did everything right. Some luck played out for cars at the front. I think the top four were on the alternative strategy. From that prospect, Josef and me were fourth and fifth on the regular strategy.

“I probably made a call on the slicks one lap too late. In the traffic, I lost the position to Josef. But it’s good. Both cars in top-10 is not what we really want – we want more – but ultimately, it’s a solid position for our championship, to get two cars in the top-10, and for myself to have two in the top 10. I want more, but it’s good.”

Filippi has been good though. After only scoring one top-10 finish in his previous eight IndyCar starts in 2013 and 2014, he is two-for-two this year. He is one of five drivers to have done that; the others being Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Tony Kanaan.

Newgarden, in the No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet, banked his first top-10 of the season in ninth after starting 12th.

“The thing I am happy about is that we got a top-10 on a difficult day,” Newgarden said, via the team release. “It could have gone a lot better for us. We struggled a little bit on the wet, but when it was going dry we were very strong and we didn’t get to capitalize on that.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III