Josef Newgarden on pole for Bommarito Automotive Group 500

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NTT IndyCar Series point leader Josef Newgarden collected his second pole position of the season during qualifying for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Friday evening.

With an average two-lap speed of 186.808 miles per hour around the 1.25-mile World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Newgarden, the final driver to make a qualifying run, was able to unseat provisional polesitter Sebastian Bourdais for the top starting position.

In addition to the front-row starting position, Newgarden’s pole-winning effort also added an additional bonus point to his lead over Alexander Rossi in the standings. Newgarden now leads Rossi by 36 points.

“This was kinda like an Iowa situation,” Newgarden told NBC Sports following his pole run. “When we were in Iowa, in practice I said ‘this is the car that can win the pole’, and we missed it just by a little bit. I would have been so mad at us as a unit if we did that again.

“I’m so happy we got it right. The guys did an amazing job with the PPG car. It was so good right off the truck.”

With Newgarden the final driver to qualify, Bourdais (185.927 mph) will start second in Saturday’s race.

Pocono winner Will Power qualified third with an average speed of 185.986 mph, while Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud (185.143 mph) qualified fourth behind the wheel of the No. 22 Menard’s Chevrolet. Takuma Sato rounded-out the top five qualifiers, posting an average speed of 185.050 mph.

Two of the primary title contenders did not qualify as close to the front as they would have liked to, however. Scott Dixon will take the green flag from the eighth position, while Rossi’s qualifying run was only good enough for an 11th-place starting position.

“Right now NAPA/Andretti Honda isn’t where it needs to be,” Rossi told NBC Sports.

Though Rossi’s qualifying run may have not been what him and his crew had hoped for, the No. 27 still has an opportunity to dial things in during final practice later in the evening (9:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold).

As the sunlight turns to darkness, drivers and teams will have the perfect opportunity to turn laps in conditions similar to what they’ll run Saturday night’s race.

Live, flag to flag coverage of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 begins Saturday evening on NBCSN and streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. 

Click here for full qualifying results

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.