Detroit GP Race 2 starting lineup: Josef Newgarden on IndyCar pole position

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Josef Newgarden scored his first pole position of the NTT IndyCar Series season, qualifying first Sunday morning in the starting lineup for the Detroit Chevrolet Grand Prix Race 2 at Belle Isle Raceway.

The Team Penske driver turned a 1-minute, 14.1094-second lap around the 14-turn, 2.3-mile street course to capture the 12th pole position of his career and first since Iowa Speedway last July.

“This car has been fast all weekend; we were really fast in the race yesterday,” Newgarden, who started fifth and finished 10th Saturday despite a tire problem, told NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider. “Unfortunately, we got caught a lap down with a small mistake, but these guys were awesome. We worked our way back to a top 10, which is all you can ask for on a day like yesterday. So I was really proud of the resilience of the team.

STARTING LINEUP: Order for Race 2

QUALIFYING: Click here for Detroit GP Race 2 qualifying results | Round 1, Group 1 | Round 1, Group 2 | Round 2

“Great to be here in Detroit. We take this race very seriously.”

The Detroit Grand Prix is operated and promoted by the staff of Roger Penske, who also owns Newgarden’s car as well as the IndyCar Series.

It’s been a rough start to 2021 for Team Penske, which is winless through seven races. It’s been eight years since the team needed eight races to earn its first victory. Will Power, Newgarden’s teammate, nearly broke through Saturday before a mechanical problem during a red flag while leading late in Race 1 ruined his chances.

Power had another tough go Sunday morning, qualifying 20th in an eventful session that ended with Santino Ferrucci smacking the wall just as the second and final round ended.

Oliver Askew, who is substituting for Felix Rosenqvist after a violent crash Saturday sent the Swede to the hospital, turned the slowest lap but will start 23rd of 25 drivers by virtue of being in Group 1.

Borrowing Juan Pablo Montoya’s firesuit and Alex Palou’s shoes, Askew is making his first IndyCar start since the 2020 season finale at St. Petersburg last October. Rosenqvist replaced Askew in the No. 7 Dallara-Chevrolet for 2021.

“Very happy Felix is OK,” Askew told Snider. “We have the best safety crew in racing. Thankfully Felix is going to be all right. Got the callup quite late last night. We were here until 1 a.m. The crew guys probably slept 1 or 2 hours last night getting this car ready so big hats off to them.

“It’s really good to be back in the series. First time in Detroit as well. A track I’ve always wanted to drive, and we’ll get the most out of today for sure. It was interesting. Not as bumpy as everyone was saying. I think the guys did a really good job of making this car compliant over the bumps. Pato (O’Ward) gave me a lot of tips, so did Felix and Robert (Wickens) as well. We did a track walk late last night and couldn’t see much, but it was good.”


QUALIFYING RESULTS FOR CHEVROLET DETROIT GRAND PRIX, RACE 2

1. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:14.1094 (114.156 mph)
2. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 1:14.4300 (113.664)
3. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 1:14.8180 (113.074)
4. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 1:14.8432 (113.036)
5. (51) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 1:14.9060 (112.942)
6. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 1:14.9231 (112.916)
7. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 1:15.3524 (112.272)
8. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 1:15.4162 (112.177)
9. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:15.4187 (112.174)
10. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 1:15.5294 (112.009)
11. (18) Ed Jones, Honda, 1:15.9478 (111.392)
12. (45) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 1:16.1146 (111.148)
13. (14) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 1:16.5387 (110.532)
14. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 1:15.9533 (111.384)
15. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 1:16.6085 (110.432)
16. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 1:16.0805 (111.198)
17. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 1:16.6456 (110.378)
18. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 1:16.1356 (111.118)
19. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 1:16.8947 (110.021)
20. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 1:16.4386 (110.677)
21. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 1:17.1815 (109.612)
22. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 1:16.5514 (110.514)
23. (7) Oliver Askew, Chevrolet, 1:19.1486 (106.888)
24. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 1:16.5805 (110.472)
25. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 1:17.9838 (108.484)

The road to the 2023 Daytona 500 is not paved for Travis Pastrana, he’ll attempt the DIRTcar Nationals

Pastrana DIRTcar Nationals
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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Travis Pastrana will attempt to make his first NASCAR Cup series race on February 19 with the grandaddy of them all, the Daytona 500, but his road to get there will not be paved and his car will have only two fenders as he tackles Florida Speedweeks and the DIRTcar Nationals.

In mid-January, it was announced Pastrana will attempt to qualify a third car from 23XI Racing that fields fulltime entries for Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Sponsorship will come from Black Rifle Coffee, who approached him during the offseason to ask what kind of “really cool stuff” he would like to do. Pastrana replied, “the Daytona 500” with a characteristic laugh in his voice.

“It’s good,” Pastrana said in a press release. “We’re going to go down, we’re going to go hangout with [NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion] Matt Crafton, one of [Black Rifle’s] drivers, we’ll go to Modified races and watch all the Late Models. We’ll watch the racing, and we’ll bring [United States military] veterans down and hangout with [Steve] Arpin.”

But there is a saying among dirt track fans that goes, ‘asphalt is for getting to the track; dirt is for racing’ – and Pastrana is taking that to heart.

After racing on the snow in Nitro Rallycross February 4-5 in Calgary, Alberta, the original plan was to head to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida to watch the modified and late model races. Until Crafton called him out for not racing.

Pastrana relayed the conversation: “I told Crafton [I was coming to watch] and he goes, ‘Ah, too much of a sissy to drive?’ I called Arpin, and said, ‘So, Longhorn, I heard you guys have vehicles that can kick the crap out of Crafton’s vehicle.’ [Arpin] said, ‘Yeah, if you don’t suck, you can beat him.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’m in.’”

The DIRTcar Nationals run from February 6-18. The first week features six UMP Modified Mains each night they run, on Monday (Feb. 6), Friday (Feb. 10), and then the prestigious Gator Championship race on Saturday (Feb. 11). Pastrana hopes to run every night in one of Arpin’s cars, also with sponsorship from Black Riffle Coffee.

And this is not just for bragging rights; there is money on the line. Pastrana and Crafton have a $1 bet on who has the best finish.

While Pastrana is accustomed pitching his car sideways on a combination of left and right turns in a rally car – he won the Nitro Rallycross race at ERX Motorsports Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota last October and became the first two-time winner in the 2022/23 season at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona in November – the DIRTcar Nationals will be an entirely different proposition.

It took a day for Pastrana to get comfortable in the modified. And it took a little coaching from Arpin, who has experience in both dirt modifieds and rally cars to make him fast.

“[Arpin] showed up the second day after hearing how bad the first day was,” Pastrana said, which is confirmed in the Instagram post embedded above. “But he just told me, until you commit, it’s not going to work. Once I committed, it started making a lot of sense. But coming in, if you’re lifting off the gas while trying to turn, it just doesn’t turn and all your natural instincts say, ‘Don’t get on the gas.’ So, yeah, I feel like it should suit my driving style because I’m more of an aggressive sideways type of driver, but it was very difficult. Turning and sliding, I’m fine. Getting it there is not the easiest.”

Pastrana has one previous start in a dirt late model that came in the 2010 Prelude to the Dream. He finished 23rd in the 27-car field and was three laps off the pace. He wasn’t the only driver having difficulty getting a feel for the car that night; Jeff Gordon finished on the same lap, only one position ahead of him.

Travis Pastrana will race one of Steve Arpin’s dirt modifieds during Florida Speedweeks as he prepares for the 2023 Daytona 500. – Jacy Norgaard, World Racing Group

The price of the weekend could well exceed the dollar he may lose to Crafton.

“It’s going to be an expensive weekend,” Pastrana said. “Not everything is covered. If I crash anything, it is going to be all on me. This is one of those things where I want to come down and have fun. I want to hang out with the crowd, I want to sign autographs and give high fives. Especially for the Modified crew, that’s the grassroots racing that I love and some of my friends are involved with. We’ll be camping down there with Arpin and all the Longhorn guys, just hanging out. I feel like that’s a great opportunity for us to bring a lot of [US] veterans and bring people that are into racing and aren’t into racing, friends and family, and just have an awesome time.”

And it’s not out of the question that Pastrana could add another top-10 to his record book in the DIRTcar Nationals. After the rocky first day, Pastrana gained speed. Enough so that Arpin’s confidence was raised.

“We’re pretty confident Crafton is going to have to run hard to keep his dollar,” Arpin said.