Road America IndyCar: Newgarden takes pole with smart tyre strategy

Josef Newgarden landed the 13th pole of his IndyCar career and his third at Road America after sticking with the harder primary tyres in the final segment of qualifying.

Road America IndyCar: Newgarden takes pole with smart tyre strategy

Colton Herta was the first driver to get below 1m47s as the teams debated over whether to run used red soft tyres which were degrading rapidly, or the primary tyres which were capable of squeezing out three rapid laps, even if the ‘peak’ lap wasn’t necessarily higher.

Only Newgarden and engineer Gavin Ward, who had seen their #2 Penske clock fastest times on either kind of tyres in the previous practice session, had the courage of their convictions and stuck to the primaries, and their reward was pole by almost quarter second over Herta’s Andretti Autosport, turning a 1m46.0186s.

After qualifying Newgarden admitted he was surprised no one else had done the same.

Jack Harvey was an impressive third fastest for Meyer Shank Racing, and will start alongside Will Power who switched toward Newgarden’s set-up before qualifying.

Alex Palou’s car looked a handful on either tyre compound, but he will be the highest of the Chip Ganassi cars, ahead of Simon Pagenaud in a third Penske car who completed the top-six shootout.

In the Q2 session on the black tyres, Power, Pagenaud, Herta, Newgarden, Harvey and O’Ward made up the initial top six, Power’s best time being 1m46.5745s.

Palou’s first flier on reds was over four-tenths quicker than that, while Romain Grosjean for Dale Coyne Racing fell a tenth short of that, before nailing a 1m45.9s with his next effort.

However, he was by no means safe, and the times tumbled in the last three minutes, with Harvey nailing a brilliant 1m45.3612s to go 0.16s faster than team-mate Herta.

Behind him three Penske drivers and Alex Palou bumped Grosjean out of the top six spots, although he was faster than two more Andretti cars of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi, meaning the former Formula 1 driver had to settle for seventh place. 

Romain Grosjean, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda

Romain Grosjean, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda

Photo by: Chris Owens

Championship leader Pato O’Ward could only claim 10th for Arrow McLaren SP ahead of Sebastien Bourdais and Ed Jones who completed the Q2 contenders.

Reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon was eliminated early in the Q1 qualifying group stage in seventh place, bumped out by a late improvement by Pagenaud in the first group, with Dixon limited on track time having only run one lap on reds this morning due to debris damaging his car’s underwing.

IndyCar debutant Kevin Magnussen was also eliminated at the same stage as Dixon, with the Danish driver substituting for Felix Rosenqvist in the #7 Arrow McLaren SP car this weekend. Magnussen ended his group qualifying 1.6s off the ultimate pace but ahead of Jimmie Johnson.

Road America IndyCar - top six qualifying results
Cla Driver Team Time Gap
1 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 1'46.018  
2 United States Colton Herta Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian 1'46.261 0.243
3 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Meyer Shank Racing 1'46.720 0.702
4 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 1'46.823 0.805
5 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 1'46.863 0.844
6 France Simon Pagenaud United States Team Penske 1'47.127 1.108

Road America IndyCar - Q2 qualifying results

Cla Driver Team Time
1 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Meyer Shank Racing 1'45.361
2 United States Colton Herta Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian 1'45.523
3 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 1'45.681
4 France Simon Pagenaud United States Team Penske 1'45.799
5 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 1'45.836
6 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 1'45.857
7 France Romain Grosjean Dale Coyne Racing with RWR 1'45.901
8 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay United States Andretti Autosport 1'45.951
9 United States Alexander Rossi United States Andretti Autosport 1'46.103
10 Mexico Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP 1'46.106
11 France Sébastien Bourdais United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 1'46.222
12 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 1'46.227

Road America IndyCar - Q1, G2 qualifying results

Cla Driver Team Time Gap
1 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 1'45.607  
2 United States Alexander Rossi United States Andretti Autosport 1'45.628 0.020
3 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 1'45.671 0.063
4 Mexico Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP 1'45.768 0.160
5 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 1'45.796 0.189
6 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Meyer Shank Racing 1'46.006 0.398
7 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1'46.277 0.670
8 United States Oliver Askew United States Ed Carpenter Racing 1'46.290 0.682
9 Sweden Marcus Ericsson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 1'46.406 0.799
10 Japan Takuma Sato United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 1'46.513 0.905
11 United Kingdom Max Chilton United Kingdom Carlin 1'46.555 0.947
12 Canada Dalton Kellett United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 1'46.978 1.370
13 United States Cody Ware Dale Coyne Racing with RWR 1'47.732 2.124

Road America IndyCar - Q1, G1 qualifying results

Cla Driver Team Time Gap
1 United States Colton Herta Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian 1'45.750  
2 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 1'45.882 0.131
3 France Sébastien Bourdais United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 1'46.108 0.358
4 France Simon Pagenaud United States Team Penske 1'46.128 0.377
5 France Romain Grosjean Dale Coyne Racing with RWR 1'46.132 0.382
6 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay United States Andretti Autosport 1'46.308 0.558
7 New Zealand Scott Dixon United States Chip Ganassi Racing 1'46.342 0.592
8 United States Conor Daly United States Ed Carpenter Racing 1'46.397 0.647
9 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 1'46.862 1.112
10 Canada James Hinchcliffe Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 1'47.029 1.279
11 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Arrow McLaren SP 1'47.377 1.627
12 United States Jimmie Johnson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 1'47.788 2.038
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