Newgarden Nabs Pole For IndyCar’s Texas Opener

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Josef Newgarden will start from the pole during Saturday's NTT IndyCar Series opener at Texas Motor Speedway. (IndyCar Photo)
Josef Newgarden will start from the pole during Saturday's NTT IndyCar Series opener at Texas Motor Speedway. (IndyCar Photo)

FORT WORTH, Texas – One of the most hectic days in recent NTT IndyCar Series history, a one-day show at Texas Motor Speedway, produced similar results to a regular event.

Team Penske star Josef Newgarden won the pole for Saturday night’s Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway with a two-lap average of 215.740 mph in the No. 1 Chevrolet.

“It’s great to be back, doing what we love,” Newgarden said. “I didn’t know if we had enough to beat Scott Dixon. I did all I could do just to keep it flat around the track. The crew nailed it.

“It was a great run. Our car was super quick from when we unloaded today, but I wasn’t sure we had enough for Scott Dixon. He was a tick quicker in practice. I did everything to be flat out. We just made a few tweaks. It was perfect, just where it needed to be. It’s pretty cool to start off with the pole and we’ll see if we can finish things off here later tonight.”

Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion and three-time Texas winner Scott Dixon was on the pole before Newgarden knocked him off as the last driver to make an attempt. Dixon’s two-lap average was 215.638 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.

“It’s been an interesting day trying to cram as much as we can into this one day,” Dixon said.

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was third at 215.464 mph in the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 DHL Honda at Andretti Autosport with two laps at 214.311 mph.

Hunter-Reay’s qualifying speed was impressive because he brushed the turn two wall and hit the backstretch wall during Saturday afternoons practice session.

“It was a pretty good car to start with in practice, I just brushed the wall pretty flush and thought I was going to be all right, but the right toe-link broke and that put me into the wall,” Hunter-Reay recalled. “We had to rebuild the right front of the car. We barely made it out in time for qualifying. The crew did an awesome job making sure everything was right. We put in a great time out there and had great speed in the car.

“We thought we might have the pole, but I knew those last few takers were going to be pretty fast. We are very happy with where we ended up considering we spent the majority of practice in the garage.”

Another Andretti Autosport driver, Zach Veach, was fifth with two laps averaging 213.981 mph. Team Penske’s Will Power was sixth (213.930 mph), Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan was seventh (213.878 mph) and Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport was eighth (213.689 mph).

Santino Ferrucci did not make a qualifying attempt and will start 22nd. Last year’s pole winner at Texas, Takuma Sato, crashed on his warmup lap and starts 23rd. Rookie Rinus VeeKay crashed in practice and did not make a qualification attempt. He will start last in the 24-car field.

The NBC broadcast begins at 8 p.m. E.T. with the green flag waving shortly thereafter.

It’s been a long day for the crews, who boarded a chartered flight that left Indianapolis at 6 a.m. and will fly back after the race, arriving about 3 a.m.

“They have the toughest job of all, sweating all day long, since 8 a.m. when they got here unloading the trailers,” Hunter-Reay said. “Hopefully, we can keep everybody hydrated and get them home healthy.”

Starting Lineup for the Genesys 300

1. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 215.740 mph
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 215.638
3. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 215.464
4. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 214.311
5. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 213.981
6. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 213.930
7. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 213.878
8. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 213.689
9. (10) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 213.560
10. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 213.388
11. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 213.190
12. (4) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 212.780
13. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 212.714
14. (88) Colton Herta, Honda, 212.697
15. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 212.603
16. (55) Alex Palou, Honda, 212.504
17. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 212.040
18. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 212.013
19. (59) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 211.425
20. (7) Oliver Askew, Chevrolet, 210.839
21. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 205.647
22. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, no speed
23. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, no speed
24. (18) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, no speed