Newgarden Nips Harvey For Road America Pole

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Josef Newgarden earned the pole for Saturday's NTT IndyCar Series race at Road America. (IndyCar Photo)
Josef Newgarden earned the pole for Saturday's NTT IndyCar Series race at Road America. (IndyCar Photo)

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – For the second week in a row, Jack Harvey saw a potential pole slip away just after the checkered flag had waved on a qualifying session.

This time it was Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden who won his second NTT IndyCar Series pole of the season, his second pole at Road America and the 10th pole of his career.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion will lead the field to the green flag Saturday afternoon in the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR. That race is set to begin at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Newgarden advanced out of the loaded group two that included drivers with a combined 145 race wins, five NTT IndyCar Series championships and six Indianapolis 500 victories. Newgarden’s fast time of 1:45.5191 around the 4.014-mile, 14-turn road course knocked Harvey’s Honda off the top spot at 1:45.7290.

Newgarden also won the pole at Road America in 2018 and went on to win the race.

“It was a good day and I was lucky today because we are driving the PPG car,” Newgarden said after the shortened qualifying session used for doubleheaders. “Every time I drive this car, I seem to do well. Gavin Newsome (engineer) tried to figure out the pieces that were good and get it ready for the car.”

The runner-up position matched Harvey’s best NTT IndyCar Series start. He qualified second last week at the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“All we would worry about was trying to be the quickest in our group. Group 2 was a bit quicker. To see the No. 60 Honda at the front makes it all worth it. It would like to keep the momentum going and put ourselves in another good position.”

For IndyCar doubleheaders, the series uses two 14-minute qualification sessions split into two groups. Harvey knocked Graham Rahal’s Honda off the front row with his fast time.

Because Newgarden had the fastest overall speed, he wins the pole and every driver out of his group will start in the odd-numbered positions. Every driver in Harvey’s group starts in the even-numbered positions.

“It was a good day. I think I’m lucky today because I’m driving the PPG car,” Newgarden said. “Every time we run this car we seem to have luck, whether it’s trying to get the pole of trying to win the race. So, we definitely had a good omen. The boys worked really hard trying to turn around from the GP. You know how this works. It’s been a fast day and the guys have had to be on-it with their decision-making. Compared to practice, I think we tried to get a little cheeky with our tire usage, and we were a little off-page with the other people, but Gavin (Ward, race engineer) and me tried to figure out the pieces that were good and put them back on the car then it worked out really well. So now, we’ve got to worry about the race car.

“Chevy gave us a great package. I think we made huge steps from where we were last year here. So thank you very much to Team Chevy. The PPG car is my favorite car I get to drive at Team Penske. I love these colors. Just need a little more to get it just right.”

Honda’s Ryan Hunger-Reay starts third at 1:45.6563, followed by Graham Rahal’s Honda at 1:45.7593. Will Power’s Chevrolet rounds out the top five at 1:45.8244.

Last year’s pole winner, Colton Herta, starts seventh at 1:45.8609 alongside sixth-place Santino Ferrucci.

Defending race winner Alexander Rossi lines up 11th with a time of 1:46.1365.