IndyCar

Josef Newgarden wins pole position for IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix Race 2

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After winning yesterday’s Race 1 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, Josef Newgarden won the pole position for Race 2 this afternoon with a lap of 1 minute, 14.8607 seconds around the 2.35-mile Belle Isle Park street circuit.

The pole is the first for Newgarden since last year at Toronto, as well as the first of his career at Belle Isle.

“It was a good lap,” Newgarden told NBC Sports. “I got it on the first one. I could tell the temperatures were coming up quicker than yesterday. Normally, our second lap is our peak lap, and I could see the grip was already there so I had to go, and the second lap was done. The tires were already burned off so I tried to maximize that first one.”

“I must have got lucky, you know? I guess it worked out.”

Race 1 polesitter Alexander Rossi attempted to make it back-to-back poles from qualifying Group 1, but his time of 1 minute, 15.1825 seconds was not enough to put his NAPA Honda at the top. He’ll start today’s race from the outside front row.

Rossi’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, Zach Veach (1:15.2625), qualified third and will share the second row with rookie Colton Herta (1:15.6478).

James Hinchcliffe (1:15.4393) and Scott Dixon (1:15.8003) are set to line up in the third row, and behind them will be two more rookies in the fourth row: Felix Rosenqvist (1:15.4958) from Chip Ganassi Racing and Patricio O’Ward (1:15.9263) from Carlin.

As for Indianapolis 500 champion Simon Pagenaud, he’ll have to climb from mid-pack again today after qualifying 14th (1:16.2190).

But it could be much worse. Graham Rahal (1:17.3698) will start this afternoon’s race from the 22nd and final starting position after he experienced a gearbox failure.

Group 2 qualifying was interrupted by a nearly 50-minute red flag delay due to water on the track at Turn 6. A tarp on the tire barriers there sagged and released rain water collected from yesterday.

Once the clean-up was over, INDYCAR officials reset the clock to the full 12 minutes for Group 2 competitors.

Coverage of Race 2 for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix begins at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC.

Click here for full qualifying results 

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NHRA: Steve Torrence’s 2nd Top Fuel title was emotional roller coaster day

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There’s no question Steve Torrence is a proud Texan. When he’s not strapping on his racing helmet, the Kilgore, Texas resident proudly wears a black cowboy hat and shiny boots practically everywhere he goes.

It’s just part of who one of the Lone Star State’s favorite sons is.

Torrence also has a great deal to be proud of after winning his second consecutive Top Fuel championship in Sunday’s NHRA season-ending national event at Pomona, California.

In doing so, he joins seven of the biggest names in drag racing history to win back-to-back titles: Don Garlits, Joe Amato, the late Scott Kalitta, Gary Scelzi, Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon and Antron Brown.

Torrence followed up last season’s 11 wins – including being the first driver to win all six Countdown to the Championship playoff races – with nine wins in 2019, giving him 36 career wins and 55 final round appearances in his career.

But as he was interviewed shortly after he clinched the championship — even though he lost in the semifinal round of eliminations — instead of being effusive and ecstatic, Torrence was also uncharacteristically somewhat solemn and melancholy at the same time.

After publicly thanking his team – “the best in the business,” as Torrence frequently says – he also quickly paid tribute to a young man from Texas by the name of Brandon Seegers, who was tragically killed in an ATV accident last week (the young man in glasses is pictured in the tweet below).

Torrence wanted the world to know who Brandon was, calling him one of Torrence Racing’s biggest fans. It wasn’t lip service. Brandon – a 15-year-old freshman football player at Carthage (Texas) High School – truly was one of Torrence’s biggest supporters. He’ll be buried Tuesday.

Torrence also paid tribute to Brandon’s parents. The young man’s father has worked 30 years for Capco Contractors Inc., an oil and gas company owned by Torrence’s family. In a sense, because of their close relationship, Brandon and his parents are extended members of the Torrence family.

“This is for the Seegers family, who lost their little boy the Wednesday of last week,” Torrence said. “He was the biggest Capco fan there was. We’re taking the championship trophy home to him. We’re going to give it to all the Capco guys and his family.”

Admit it, when was the last time you heard someone in sports win a championship and then dedicate that effort to a young fan who was tragically killed just a few days earlier in an accident.

But that’s the kind of guy Torrence is, one of the classiest individuals in motorsports. And if you don’t really know who he is, you should, because you might understand why Torrence is who he is.

At the age of 36, Torrence is not just a survivor of the 1,000-foot dragstrips wars from New Hampshire to Seattle to Phoenix to Gainesville and everywhere in-between.

He’s also a survivor of something much more important: Before he was Steve Torrence, two-time NHRA Top Fuel champ, he was Steve Torrence, cancer and heart attack survivor. That kind of thing gives someone a much different perspective than most other individuals.

Torrence knows how fortunate he is to not only be a two-time champion, but more importantly, to be alive to earn and enjoy both of those titles. He came close, really close, to not being here anymore. That’s why Brandon’s death hit Torrence so hard.

He even tried to keep from choking up when he told the crowd about who his young friend Brandon was.

Torrence spent much of the weekend at Pomona thinking about his young fan. It definitely affected Torrence’s mindset and demeanor, especially on Sunday, with the pressure packed championship on the line.

To illustrate how different Torrence acted, he was involved in an incident after the first round that was completely out of character. While he may be one of the most competitive drivers on the NHRA circuit, he’s also normally a very level-headed, calm and cool persona.

Torrence uncharacteristically slapped young opponent and part-time Top Fuel driver Cameron Ferre in the face at the end of the drag strip after they climbed from their race cars following their first round run and exchanged words.

Normally a fan favorite, Torrence was uncharacteristically criticized on social media and was met with a wave of fan boos after the race when he climbed on stage to accept his championship trophy and the big check that came with it. A contrite Torrence eventually issued a public apology to both Ferre and fans, admitting he was wrong. The NHRA is reviewing the incident and still could penalize Torrence.

“Tensions are high,” Torrence told NHRA.com. “There’s a lot of crap going on out there, but there’s still no excuse for me acting that way. I apologize to every fan, all my racing friends and racing rivals. It was a heat-of-the moment reaction on a day when emotions were high, especially in the Capco camp. I talked to Cameron and we’ll just put it behind us and move on.”

Given the championship pressure and what he was enduring emotionally, Sunday may not have been Torrence’s finest moment or best day professionally or personally. But at the same time, he further cemented why he’s on his way to becoming one of the best drivers in Top Fuel history, that he makes mistakes and was man enough to admit when he made one.

He also cares for others and what they go through perhaps more than most because he himself came so close to not being around to enjoy the success he has enjoyed to date – and all the additional success that he’s likely to continue to enjoy for many more years to come.

 

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