Newgarden, Penske soar to pole at Road America

0 Comments

Qualifying for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix (12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) saw Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden continue what has been a perfect weekend as he secured the pole with a quick lap of 1:43.202. Newgarden was also quickest in both of Friday’s practices. It is Newgarden’s third pole of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

What’s more, Newgarden’s pole lap came on his final run, and it upset a Honda applecart at the front – Honda drivers Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais ran 1-2-3 in the final seconds.

However, Will Power jumped ahead of them to take P1, but it was his teammate Newgarden, who has been fastest in all but one session all weekend (Robert Wickens led Saturday practice) who seized the pole only seconds later.

Josef Newgarden has been fastest in nearly every session so far at Road America, and will start the KOHLER Grand Prix on the pole. Photo: IndyCar

“It’s nice when you have the car to do it. We had the speed on Friday, so to finish it off today is nice,” Newgarden revealed after his run. “It’s only goal one. Two races; one for pole, one for the race. We need to close it out. Verizon has been very good to us, and Team Chevy as well. Engine package has been phenomenal to get the most out of it. You see how well we work together with Team Penske and Team Chevy. We just have to be smart and get through the first couple laps.”

Though he missed out on the pole, Will Power made it a Penske 1-2 on the front row, as he qualified second with a quick lap of 1:43.250. Power detailed afterward that he was actually surprised to challenge for the pole, as he didn’t think his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet had enough to challenge his teammates twin No. 1 Verizon Chevy.

“That was close. We were off the whole time. I gave it everything the last lap. A surprise front row,” Power explained. “I keep getting front rows every weekend. Not the pole, but yeah, I’m pretty happy. But only five hundredths off, come on. I think I did a really neat lap. Josef (Newgarden) did a great lap. That was all I had.”

The Andretti Autosport teammates of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi will start third and fourth, while Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Robert Wickens and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the Firestone Fast Fix.

While Newgarden and Power are on the front row, teammate Simon Pagenaud failed to advance out of Round 1 and will start 14th.

Scott Dixon, last year’s winner at Road America, was another notable driver who was absent from the Firestone Fast Six, as he qualified eighth.

Other notables include Graham Rahal (ninth), Zach Veach (11th), Ed Jones (12th) Marco Andretti (15th), James Hinchcliffe (16th) and Tony Kanaan (18th).

Full results are below:

1. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:43.2026 (140.020 mph)
2. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 1:43.2508 (139.954)
3. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 1:43.3811 (139.778)
4. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 1:43.4361 (139.704)
5. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 1:43.7121 (139.332)
6. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 1:43.7332 (139.304)
7. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 1:43.1108 (140.144)
8. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 1:43.1769 (140.055)
9. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:43.1874 (140.040)
10. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 1:43.1995 (140.024)
11. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 1:43.2265 (139.987)
12. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 1:43.3544 (139.814)
13. (20) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 1:43.7356 (139.300)
14. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 1:43.4153 (139.732)
15. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 1:43.9843 (138.967)
16. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 1:43.8591 (139.135)
17. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 1:44.0189 (138.921)
18. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 1:44.1165 (138.791)
19. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 1:45.1161 (137.471)
20. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 1:44.3438 (138.488)
21. (32) Alfonso Celis Jr, Chevrolet, 1:45.5584 (136.895)
22. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 1:44.3442 (138.488)
23. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 1:44.6258 (138.115)

 

Follow@KyleMLavigne

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
0 Comments

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.