Newgarden, Dixon just miss out on Watkins Glen pole

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – In the final minutes of Firestone Fast Six qualifying for the Verizon IndyCar Series, both Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon appeared destined to score poles for Sunday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.

First off, Newgarden was on his last run and looked set to turn the fastest lap of the session at that time. And while he did momentarily set the fastest lap, he ultimately left time on the table as he went a little wide exiting Turn 9 and dipped his wheels onto the grass, kicking up a big cloud of dust in the process.

He explained in the post-qualifying press conference that it ultimately cost him at least a couple tenths of a second, which would have made the difference in him securing the pole.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really had to say this much, but I think I messed up a pole run, to be honest with you,” Newgarden revealed. “I lost two or three tenths in the final corner. I don’t remember ever having to say that.”

Newgarden added that he overshot Turn 9 as a result of thinking he needed to charge through the corner in order jump over Dixon and the other Honda drivers.

“(The lap) was like projected at an 82.2 (seconds) going into Turn 9. If we want to beat Dixon, I’ve got to get everything out of (Turn 9) as well. I just deuced it, totally messed it up, lost a couple tenths. Great lap time, good starting position for us. I feel so silly for messing up what could have been a pole position.”

Like Newgarden, Scott Dixon felt like he left a pole on the table. Immediately after Newgarden’s aforementioned run, Dixon clocked in with a lap of 1:22.5168. In comparison to Newgarden’s lap (a 1:22.5169), the difference between the two was one ten-thousandth of a second, the smallest margin possible under IndyCar’s scoring system.

Scott Dixon appeared set to score the pole before Alexander Rossi took it from him with the last run of the day. Photo: IndyCar

However, on his next lap, Dixon came up on a slowing Helio Castroneves, delaying his run enough to force him to abort. Unable to get his Firestone black tires up to temperature after that, Dixon could not turn a faster lap, and ultimately had to settle for second when Alexander Rossi swooped in to take the pole with the last run of the session.

Although starting on the front row is a solid result on the surface, Dixon couldn’t help but be disappointed to miss out on the pole.

“The frustrating part is that we had plenty in hand,” Dixon lamented. “The problem is if you cool off (the tires) too much, it’s really hard to get back up to speed. We caught Helio so quickly – I don’t know what he was doing out there, he was just sort of cruising around. We caught him way too fast with two laps to go.”

Dixon added that he believed the car had plenty of speed in it to take the pole had he been able to get a cleaner run, as evidenced during Round 2 of qualifying, when he set a lap record with a lap time of 1:22.4171.

“I think we had probably another three or four tenths in the car. Definitely frustrating to lose it that way. We showed that speed definitely in Q2.”

The result ultimately proves critical in the championship chase, in which Newgarden leads Dixon by 31 points entering Sunday’s race, as neither driver was able to score a vital championship for the pole.

Newgarden, given that the events of qualifying prevented Dixon from securing that championship point, expressed a small amount of relief in considering that.

“Every point counts, so for sure I think it helps. It’s small, small little detail. But it adds up,” said Newgarden.

Dixon will flank pole sitter Alexander Rossi on the front row, while Newgarden will start third for Sunday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen (1:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

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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