Newgarden scores first career IndyCar pole in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE – Josef Newgarden and the CFH Racing team carried their practice pace into qualifying en route to the Verizon P1 Award for the 12th round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

It’s Newgarden’s first pole position of his career, and also the first for the CFH team since both Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing merged – incidentally, a move reported at this race last year by NBCSN reporter Robin Miller.

Newgarden’s two-lap average of 170.223 mph in the No. 67 Direct Supply CFH Racing Chevrolet topped the field, and was one of two drivers in the 170 range.

Newgarden’s pole is also the first from outside Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske since Mid-Ohio 2014, when Sebastien Bourdais took the top spot. Power’s pole at Milwaukee last year kicked off a string of 14 races in a row where a Penske or Ganassi driver took the top spot.

Ryan Briscoe, a past race winner and polesitter in Milwaukee, qualified second in the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda at 170.086 mph.

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Sage Karam and Tony Kanaan were third and fourth, with Briscoe’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate James Jakes completing an abnormal top five on the grid.

Auto Club Speedway race winner Graham Rahal qualified sixth, ahead of Charlie Kimball, points leader Juan Pablo Montoya, Marco Andretti and Scott Dixon.

It was a tough qualifying session for Penske’s four cars; Montoya was eighth while Will Power was 14th, Simon Pagenaud 17th and Helio Castroneves 24th and last after missing his spot in the qualifying queue. The Brazilian will start from the rear of the field at a traditional bogey track.

Here is the provisional starting grid:

1 67 Josef Newgarden, 170.223
2 5 Ryan Briscoe, 170.086
3 8 Sage Karam (R), 169.639
4 10 Tony Kanaan, 169.542
5 7 James Jakes, 169.317
6 15 Graham Rahal, 169.126
7 83 Charlie Kimball, 169.122
8 2 Juan Pablo Montoya, 169.108
9 27 Marco Andretti, 168.994
10 9 Scott Dixon, 168.650
11 11 Sebastien Bourdais, 168.462
12 98 Gabby Chaves (R), 168.364
13 14 Takuma Sato, 168.288
14 1 Will Power, 167.978
15 25 Justin Wilson, 167.863
16 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, 167.690
17 22 Simon Pagenaud, 167.422
18 26 Carlos Munoz, 166.545
19 4 Stefano Coletti (R), 166.410
20 19 Tristan Vautier, 165.786
21 41 Jack Hawksworth, 164.827
22 20 Ed Carpenter, 164.005
23 18 Pippa Mann, 159.214
24 3 Helio Castroneves, No Speed

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.