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IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis Race 2

Newgarden: "Lot of work to do” to stay in IndyCar title chase

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden admits he has “a lot of work to do” in Saturday’s IndyCar Series race on the Indianapolis Road Course having taken a six-place grid penalty.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

This year’s Indy 500 winner suffered a disastrous qualifying session on Friday, failing to progress from Q1, and was scheduled to start the race from 19th on the grid.

But IndyCar revealed on Saturday morning that Newgarden has taken a fifth engine, which is classed as an unapproved engine change and will instead start from 25th on the grid.

He begins the day 84 points behind series dominator Alex Palou, and knows he is running out of races to close the deficit.

“We have a lot of work to do,” said Newgarden. “You just never know how these things turn out, so you just hope for a good, clean day.

“It seemed a little bit better [in final practice], probably closer to where we needed to be, which is great.

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“[We take it] one session at a time, we’re always trying to maximise it, so we had a pretty good warm-up and we’ll try and have a great race.”

Newgarden was further hampered by being forced to end his final practice session 10 minutes early due to missing the drivers’ weigh-in. He finished that session in 14th.

When asked about degradation he expected on the alternate tyre, which will be key if he’s to make up places, he replied: “They seem pretty friendly, they’re different for sure than what we had here last year, and even in May, so it’s probably hard to say now as it’ll change as we get into the race.”

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Palou suffered his own qualifying struggles, failing to make the Fast Six shootout, but he benefited from Jack Harvey’s grid penalty for an engine change to rise from ninth to eighth.

“We had a great car, but we just missed a bit of speed and also didn’t really nail the lap,” said Palou. “And here, you lose a lot of positions if you don’t nail the lap.

“Confident for [the race] but obviously a bit bummed about not making the Fast Six.

“It’s not a bad starting position, we can do a lot from there, especially with it being such a long race and with the strategies. We’re not big fans of the alternate tires, so hopefully it’s going to be a black tyre race and we can make up some positions.”

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