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Newgarden Tops At Road America In IndyCar Qualifying

Josef Newgarden celebrates winning the pole at Road America in the Verizon IndyCar Series. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Josef Newgarden celebrates winning the pole at Road America in the Verizon IndyCar Series. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

 

by Paul Gohde

Josef Newgarden at Road America. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Josef Newgarden at Road America. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

The green flag came out for the eight-minute-long Firestone Fast Six qualifying session late Saturday afternoon at Road America. The pole for Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix was at stake, and for awhile no one moved from the pits. Finally, Sebastien Bourdais rolled out and put in several laps, but it took valuable minutes for the others to make a move. Gamesmanship? Perhaps, but more likely just saving tires for those final 1-2 lap runs for the pole. And when those final seconds ticked away, Team Penske had the pole for the third straight race here thanks to 2017 series’ champ Josef Newgarden. “We worked hard to get what we needed for that final qualifying run. We made a gear change before that run to match the other components we changed,” Newgarden explained. But, to him, qualifying first might not be all it’s cracked up to be. “Qualifying doesn’t guarantee everything. There’s so many things that give us concern before tomorrow: tire degradation, weather, fuel and working to save fuel to match the downforce package,” concerns that Newgarden and the others will work out until just before Sunday’s green flag as there will be no warm-up session prior to the race.

  • Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet-2nd: “We were strong in the first two (qualifying) rounds, but I’m happy with a front row start. It’s hard to get the car’s balance right on a low-grip track like this. It’s hard to put a good lap together. There is tire degradation here, but this new car is easier on tires.”
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda-3rd: “I had a lap good enough for the pole but I had a bobble in turn 12. We had a good start to the weekend, but we weren’t here for the testing and we’re still trying to find what the car needs. It’ll be interesting to see what the downforce levels are and how they affect tire degradation.”
  • Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda-4th: “It’s always so close around here. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We had everything under control yesterday, but we have had trouble with the Reds (softer compound tires). We made lots of changes over night and the car was more comfortable this morning. It was better this afternoon so we’ll try to maximize what we have.”
  • Robert Wickens, SPM Honda-5th: “We made small changes but never got the balance back from earlier to challenge for the pole. It’s hard to be happy with where we are. I hoped to be in the top three the way we started the weekend. I thought I had it. It shows how strong this series is.”
  • Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing Honda-6th: “I thought we had everything under control yesterday. It was difficult to put everything together, especially in Q3. I got out of the car not knowing what we should’a-would’a done. We could always throw the kitchen sink at it, but we’ll go with minor changes. I’m not worried about the balance, but we struggle with grip.

So those are the problems, struggles and possible solutions for the first three rows. But pole-winner Josef Newgarden will lead the field to the green just after noon tomorrow. So, here are his final words: “This weekend I’ve had the upper hand over (teammate) Will. We learn from each other every race. I’m always learning. Honda put up a good battle early in the weekend, but the field condensed today.” He hopes the field isn’t too close to him at the end tomorrow.

Notes: Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing hopes to move to the IndyCar series in 2019, and if the young Colton Herta keeps on winning, the move may be a cinch to happen. “I know they (the Steinbrenners) are talking to teams and I know teams are interested, but for me it’s irrelevant right now as I have to concentrate on this championship. We’ve been with Andretti the past two years and it’s been amazing. That would be my number-one choice. Obviously, there’s good backing. They’re not here to find sponsorship, which they’ve already done, they’re here to stay and (trying) to find a team that can take us to win a championship and 500s…Former Formula One and Indy car driver David Hobbs appeared at Road America Saturday promoting his newly released book “HOBBO-The Autobiography of David Hobbs” that details his career in both Europe and America as well as his work as a TV analyst. Hobbs reported that the first printing of his book is nearly sold out and a second printing will be coming soon.

KOHLER Grand Prix qualifying results
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Qualifying Saturday for the KOHLER Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 4.048-mile Road America, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:43.2026 (140.020 mph)
2. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 1:43.2508 (139.954)
3. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 1:43.3811 (139.778)
4. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 1:43.4361 (139.704)
5. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 1:43.7121 (139.332)
6. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 1:43.7332 (139.304)
7. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 1:43.1108 (140.144)
8. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 1:43.1769 (140.055)
9. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:43.1874 (140.040)
10. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 1:43.1995 (140.024)
11. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 1:43.2265 (139.987)
12. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 1:43.3544 (139.814)
13. (20) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 1:43.7356 (139.300)
14. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 1:43.4153 (139.732)
15. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 1:43.9843 (138.967)
16. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 1:43.8591 (139.135)
17. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 1:44.0189 (138.921)
18. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 1:44.1165 (138.791)
19. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 1:45.1161 (137.471)
20. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 1:44.3438 (138.488)
21. (32) Alfonso Celis Jr, Chevrolet, 1:45.5584 (136.895)
22. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 1:44.3442 (138.488)
23. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 1:44.6258 (138.115)

 

 

 

 

 

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”