Newgarden, Penske soar to pole at Road America

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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)

 

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Bob Fernley announced as president of McLaren IndyCar

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images
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Bob Fernley will bring his experience as former deputy team principal at Force India F1 to McLaren Racing’s IndyCar effort in 2019.

Fernley will report directly to McLaren Racing’s CEO Zak Brown.

“Heading back to the Brickyard will be a very special experience for me,” Fernley said at IndyCar.com. “I am proud to be leading this McLaren project and team. The 500 is a hell of a challenge and we have incredibly strong competitors to overcome if we’re to be successful. We will need to prepare well for the month of May and that work starts now.”

Fernley’s appointing come of the heels of last week’s announcement that McLaren will create a brand new team to compete in the 2019 Indy 500.

MORE: Fernando Alonso to return to Indy 500 in 2019

For now, Fernley’s responsibility is to create an entry that is capable of allowing two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso to win the Indy 500 in just his second start. But speculation has been widespread that the entry will be a jumping off point for a much broader involvement in IndyCar.

In 2017, Alonso qualified on the middle of row two (fifth), led 27 laps and succumbed to mechanical failure. His effort was impressive enough to be name Rookie of the Year for the Indy 500.

“Bob is a fantastic operator and someone I respect greatly,” Brown said. “His experience and leadership will be essential for us on this project. He is particularly talented at putting effective teams together and extracting maximum performance with finite resources. The Indy 500 is no easy race and Bob’s is a key role, so I’m delighted he’s on board.”