Newgarden puts CFH into Fast Six for first time; seeks elusive Long Beach result


LONG BEACH, Calif. – One of the ongoing storylines in the Verizon IndyCar Series is the battle between the three “big teams” of Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport and the remaining teams in the fight for overall supremacy in the series.

In Saturday’s qualifying ahead of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, CFH Racing was the lone team to break the stranglehold of the “power teams,” joining KVSH Racing and A.J. Foyt Enterprises, who put a car apiece into the Firestone Fast Six in St. Petersburg.

Josef Newgarden qualified sixth in the No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet, which actually is worse than starts of second (2012) and fourth (last year) in Long Beach but still an impressive result in the team’s third race as a merged unit.

Newgarden estimated there is still plenty more to come.

“I think Penske looks the strongest. They’ve really got a strong car looks like underneath, they have good power down. We’ve been inching towards that. We started off a little slow. We found some setups that get us closer. So I think we can challenge,” Newgarden told MotorSportsTalk during the post-race press conference.

“For instance, today in Q2, we were really strong. We were right behind Simon there, just a nick off of him. I needed new tires to be able to do that. There’s a little bit of a gap there when I start to wear the tires out. Can’t quite keep the grip underneath me. There’s something there that we need to tweak a little bit more, then I think we’ll be closer to Penske.”

The young American thinks Penske’s early season qualifying stranglehold won’t endure as the year goes on. Thus far, Team Penske has secured seven of the available 12 Firestone Fast Six appearances.

“Penske came out of the gate strong, but everybody is going to close the gap throughout the season,” Newgarden estimated. “No one is going to stay ahead. Each weekend you have to be fighting to find more and more out of the car.

“It’s crazy. You think you find a setup, it works well, you keep running it, it’s successful. That’s not how it works. You need to keep pushing forward, not big chunks, but you have to keep developing. Everyone is doing that, too.

“I think you’re going to see more competition for the Penske guys as the season goes on. You’re not going to see anybody run away with it.”

Newgarden’s results have not matched his pace at this track. He made a bold, if low-percentage, passing attempt on Dario Franchitti in his first Long Beach start in 2012 and was eliminated last year following contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay. But he’s in a good position on Sunday.

The CFH team banked its first double top-10 result last week in NOLA. Newgarden’s teammate, Luca Filippi, will roll off 14th Sunday in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet.

Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points


Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points