Josef Newgarden is the 2018 Verizon P1 Award winner for the 2018 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Photo by: Chris Jones

Firestone Fast Six: Round 3
Car 1 Newgarden, Josef won the 2018 Verizon P1 Award with a time of 01:07.4413 & speed of 122.773 mph. 2nd Place Car 12 Will Power with a time of 01:07.4541 & speed of 122.750 mph. 3rd Place Car 18 Sebastien Bourdais with a time of 01:07.5337 & speed of 122.605 mph.

Photo by: Chris Owens

4th Place Car 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay with a time of 01:07.7807 & speed of 122.159 mph. 5th Place Canadian Car 5 James Hinchcliffe with a time of 01:07.9472& speed of 121.859 mph. 6th Place Car 9 Scott Dixon, Scott with a time of 01:08.0303 & speed of 121.710 mph.

Photo by: Chris Owens

Newgarden eclipses Barber pole master Power for Verizon P1 Award

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Saturday, April 21, 2018) – Josef Newgarden didn’t have to look far for the benchmark in qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park. Team Penske teammate Will Power is a four-time Verizon IndyCar Series pole winner at the 2.3-mile, 17-turn permanent road course.

Newgarden knew he would need to outperform Power in the Firestone Fast Six today to collect the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First, and he did just that – barely. Newgarden’s last lap in the final round of knockout qualifying clipped Power by a mere 0.0128 of a second for top honors.

Photo by: Chris Owens

Newgarden will start first in Sunday’s scheduled 90-lap race in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske, after a lap of 1 minute, 7.4413 seconds (122.773 mph). It earned Newgarden his first pole position at Barber and the third of his seven-year Verizon IndyCar Series career.

“I think whenever you get the pole it’s a good day,” said Newgarden, who won last year’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on his way to the season championship. “It shows the speed of the car, it shows the work that everyone at Team Penske has put in.

“We all win together. (Power) could have easily had the pole. All three of us work so well together at Team Penske trying to make these cars fast.”

Power’s best lap in the Firestone Fast Six was 1:07.4541 (122.750 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Power will drive in his ninth Barber race on Sunday. He’s started all but one from the first two starting positions. He’s also the only driver to reach the Firestone Fast Six in the first three road- and street-course events this season, earning the second starting spot each time.

“The pole would have been nice,” said Power, whose 50 career pole positions are tied for third most in Indy car history. “I’m sure you could pick out a number of little things on a lap when it’s that close, but a little mistake out of (Turn) 9, a little lift here or there (would make the difference). Yeah, it was close.”

Sebastien Bourdais fashioned his best Barber qualifying effort in eight tries, earning the third starting position with a lap of 1:07.5337 (122.605 mph) in the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan. Bourdais, who won the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, has never finished better than eighth in the race at Barber.

“It was almost perfect,” Bourdais said of his lap. “I got every little bit of it I had and the SealMaster Honda No. 18 was good but obviously not quite good enough – just a tenth off. It’s just super, super tight. Those (Team Penske) guys always seem to be able to step it up in (the Firestone Fast Six). … It is what it is, but I’m pretty happy with that.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay survived a short off-track excursion in the second round of qualifying to advance and earn the fourth starting position in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport (1:07.7807, 122.159 mph). Like Power, Hunter-Reay is a two-time Barber race winner.

James Hinchcliffe qualified fifth in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda (1:07.9472, 121.859 mph), with Scott Dixon sixth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (1:08.0303, 121.710 mph). Marco Andretti barely missed reaching the Firestone Fast Six but will start a season-best seventh in the No. 98 Kerauno / Curb Honda for Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian.

Alexander Rossi, who won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15 to take the points lead after three races, qualified eighth in the No. 27 Kerauno / MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda for Andretti Autosport. The point Newgarden earned for winning the pole today closed him within 21 of Rossi.

The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama airs live at 3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Photo by: Joe Skibinski

Mazda Road to Indy race recap

Pole sitter Pato O’Ward led all 30 laps, holding off Andretti Autosport teammate Colton Herta by 1.3247 seconds to win the first of two Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires races this weekend at Barber. With the win, O’Ward took a one-point lead in the championship over Santi Urrutia (Belardi Auto Racing), who finished third in the race.

Likewise in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires weekend opener, Parker Thompson of Exclusive Autosport led every lap from the pole to win. Thompson finished 5.2269 seconds ahead of Harrison Scott (RP Motorsport).

Photo by: Joe Skibinski

‘What They’re Saying’ from Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama qualifying

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner, 2018 Verizon P1 Award winner): “Tim (Cindric, race strategist) was telling me when I came in what the lap time was. I didn’t know if that was going to be enough. It was a good lap. Actually, I like this set of tires a little bit better than the others. You almost have a favorite sometimes with the Firestones, but they held up well. I think he had a slight advantage because he didn’t have to do a hot lap on his, but I knew our car was quick. After I saw the time we did on this set of tires I knew we had a shot at it. Really proud of everybody, Hitachi being on the car with us, it’s good to get them a first pole and just everyone else. Team Chevy has done a really good job. They have really given us the good power this weekend, good drivability. We are going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we will have, but it’s going to get mixed up with the rain. So, I think the first part of this weekend is done. We just need to focus on tomorrow now and see how we are going to get through the weather.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Tough qualifying for the team, for me, for Tony (Kanaan). We just didn’t have the speed today, this whole weekend. We’ve got a lot to talk about, debrief and see what we can do to improve the car for the road courses.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “Pretty solid qualifying for us. We didn’t have a great test here a couple of weeks ago. We unrolled with a car that had some challenges. This Arrow Electronics SPM team did a great job over lunch yesterday and again overnight. This morning, Robbie (Wickens) and I went different ways on setups trying to find some things… We talked beforehand, and I actually had to lean on him, so big thanks to the Lucas Oil boys. It’s so nice having a great teammate that we can bounce ideas off on and work through this new car together. A top-five start – it’s great to be up front when it’s raining (laughter), unfortunately that’s what tomorrow looks like. Happy for the guys to be back in the Firestone Fast Six, and we’ll see what
tomorrow brings.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “I don’t think qualifying went quite as well as planned. We were very quick on the blacks (primary Firestone tires) in both Round 1 and Round 2, but unfortunately we were lacking some speed on the reds (alternate Firestones tires) to make it through. Both black runs, we were P1, so that was nice, but obviously the quicker tire, if you’re not competitive on those, you’re not going to make it through the Firestone Fast Six and challenge for the pole. Unfortunately, we’re starting 10th, but we can still play from there and see where it goes.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We had quite a few red flags in the first session today so that was tough to get the car consistent and where we needed it. Once we get the PNC Bank car in the right area, we know it’s fast. It’s just about finding that correct balance. We’re still working on the car. We’re trying to get the grip we need. We just missed in qualifying
and hopefully we’re not looking at too much rain for the race tomorrow.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I had an off in Turn 5 in the first session and we took new tires after that, but never got a chance to show our speed as we kept hitting traffic. In qualifying we were at a bit of a disadvantage as we had to run two sets of red tires, and the second qualifying group had a red flag which enabled them to save a set. Tires make all the difference in the world here and we did the best we could with what we had in the NTT DATA car. We continue to improve and try different things to get results. I know these things take time and sometimes I get frustrated, but I know we have the tools to win and that’s the goal each weekend. ”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The pole would have been nice, but I think it’s going to be a pretty mixed up day tomorrow. Maybe it will be a little wet, which makes it more straightforward, I guess. But, a good start to the weekend. I’ve had three front row starts this year. No poles. Been close though.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Difficult weekend. We’ve been trying a bunch of different things, but it’s not working. And obviously it didn’t help my mistake in qualifying. We’re struggling here, but we have a whole night to think about it and hopefully we’ll come back stronger in the race and see what we can do.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “Ultimately it’s on me; we just didn’t get it done. Something that has been nagging us a little bit this whole weekend is that we’re good on old tires, then we go to new ones and we just don’t pick up the pace. For sure in Turn 2, I went in and got real loose on entry and then it locked the inside front somehow, so I was way, way, way offline and that probably cost me a couple of tenths. And then the same thing happened in Turn 9, it didn’t rotate and just pushed straight off. I left at least two-and-a-half to three-tenths (of a second) on the table and you just can’t do that in qualifying these days. Ultimately, it’s on me to get the job done. I think we only needed a tenth-and-a-half (of a second) to advance and just didn’t get the job done. That’s how it is in the Verizon IndyCar Series today. You miss by a little bit and you pay the price. Tomorrow is going to be a wet race. We’ll just have to try to outrace these guys, make no mistakes and see how it turns out.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “It was almost perfect. I got every little bit of it I had and the SealMaster Honda No. 18 was good but obviously not quite good enough – just a tenth off. It’s just super, super tight. Those guys always seem to be able to step it up in the Firestone Fast Six. I essentially matched Group 2, but I couldn’t dial out the last little bit of understeer. It is what it is but I’m pretty happy with that. I think you can win from anywhere if it rains and we get going. I think it will be pretty exciting. Starting from the front always helps, spray and all, so hopefully we can just get a clear run and get some good points. We’ve been leaving a lot on the table for one reason or another on the last two races, showing a lot of pace. So, hopefully tomorrow we can get back to some strong scorings.”

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “On the bright side, it was our best qualifying result this year, but it’s frustrating because the No. 19 Paysafe car was really good and I think we had the potential to make it to the second round. We were faster than some guys on Firestone reds (alternate tires) with our black (Firestone primary) tires. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get a chance to go out on the reds in the final minutes of the session because of the red flag cutting it short, but I think we’ll be fine for the race.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I feel like we had the potential to be in the top 10 and challenge to get through to the Firestone Fast Six. It’s a bit annoying in that sense, but the circuit changed a lot, so the car was quite a bit different. It was difficult to get the lap time out of the car this afternoon, when this morning we seemed to show good promise. I am quite disappointed for obvious reasons, but it’s just one of those things.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “Qualifying was pretty disappointing based on how everything went yesterday. The car just didn’t feel quite the same today. I’m not sure if it’s the rubber that’s been laid down or the heat, but both Jordan (King) and I struggled this afternoon. This is something that we really need to work on and sort out for future sessions. It’s frustrating to be second one day and near the back the next, but we’ve got such a good group of guys here and the Fuzzy’s Vodka team working really hard. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, it might be a crazy race with the weather coming.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “Well, I’ve got to tell you it’s frustrating qualifying. Sometimes I can throw a lap down and do a good lap, but sometimes I really struggle. The car is very much on the edge. I’ve got to take a look at what my teammates do because they are obviously really fast. The cars are good. The cars have been fast, it’s just I’m struggling with consistency, finding what I need from the car. It’s funny, last week in Long Beach the car was beautiful, really easy for me to drive, here is a different story. So, we just have to understand what I need from it better and go from there. Disappointing, but in the meantime, happy to see the teammates up there.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): “It’s a little frustrating not to make the top 12, but honestly, the progress we’ve made since St. Pete and even in Long Beach just on qualifying is nothing to scoff at. I’m really proud of this team – they keep making progress. I think we have a solid baseline to go off of moving forward. Now we just need to optimize for each race track and figure out to how to get into the top 12 and ultimately into the Firestone Fast Six.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Group One Thousand One Honda): “Qualifying felt a little like being inside a washing machine. This is one of the toughest days I’ve ever had mentally in a race car. I’m just so thankful. I think we had the speed to get into the top 12 today, I know we got a little luck with (Tony) Kanaan bringing out the red (flag). It’s just good to get that monkey off the back. We left Long Beach saying we wanted to qualify a little better, and we did just that. Hopefully tomorrow when I come back a little more rested, we can make our way further up in the field. There’s so much more I want to develop. My end goal is miles away from where I’m at right now. I have to say, I did enjoy that last run in qualifying. You’ve got someone like (Scott) Dixon in front of you, and he’s not pulling you that bad, or you’re running with (Sebastien) Bourdais… it’s cool to be around that atmosphere. Once you get inside the top 10 in the Verizon IndyCar Series, it’s pretty rarified air. I’m just so thankful and I’m going to keep working. I wasn’t happy until I was winning races in Indy Lights and I’m going to feel the same in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 Kerauno / MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda, Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): “We’ve been on the outside of the five, bottom of the top six, all weekend so we tried to be aggressive with it to see if we could get through. We missed it by a bit. We didn’t get a lap together, quite honestly. I know the car had enough performance capability to transfer, but I just didn’t put it together. I think it would’ve been fifth or sixth, so it’s not like we are too far off in eighth. Things will get interesting tomorrow with the weather, and we’ll fight to get the Kerauno / Military to Motorsports car to the podium.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “It’s really been tough today to stay on top of the track conditions – they’ve been changing a lot. It feels more like an oval out there where the wind changes just a little bit and you have to adjust your driving style to it. It’s a lot of fun adjusting to that. We kind of got burnt there a little bit. Group 2 had a red (flag) that allowed them to save a new set of red tires to use at the end in the Firestone Fast Six. We got out-qualified by two guys that were on new red tires – but hats off to (Josef) Newgarden, he did it on used tires. I think we got about everything we could have out of the No. 28 DHL Honda. Big props to the team for giving me what I needed today, we kept making the car better and better and hopefully we can do that for the race. It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be wet tomorrow. Hopefully we can get this thing in and have an exciting rain race.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “I think we made some good progress since the last practice, but it seems like everybody made some gains as it was a quite competitive qualifying. We got only the first run in, the warm up run and just needed to be a little quicker, but the session was stopped by a red flag. No one knows how it will be in the wet. No one has run a wet setup or run the wet tire. Only a few cars ran a wet tire in the Barber test. We didn’t so we will see how it is in the race.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet): “Qualifying was short. Only one run. We basically had only one lap on the red (Firestone alternate) tires, so that was difficult for me. I think there was still more in the car, I would say one second more. I took the first lap conservative because yesterday I crashed on the reds. I think there was a lot more in it, so I am looking forward to getting back in the Binderholz Chevrolet tomorrow.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): We’re 100 percent making progress. The gap in that session to pole was half a second, which is the closest it’s been all weekend. We’re catching up, but it’s just a little frustrating that we went red and it didn’t pay off for us. It’s difficult around here, because it’s so close that you have to really perfect your lap, and unfortunately, I made a slight mistake at Turn 13. Barber is one of those tracks where you really have to push to get a good lap and I think I just slightly overdid it. Regardless, today’s qualifying efforts from myself and Charlie (Kimball) are the best Carlin Verizon IndyCar Series results so far this season, so that’s something we can build on.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “We made a great step overnight to prepare for today, but we just had some bad luck in qualifying. We were unable to get the lap in that we needed to because of the traffic and the ill-timed red flag. I think we’ve made the right steps to improve, the silver lining is that we go racing tomorrow.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 Kerauno / Curb Honda): “The Kerauno boys did a great job rebounding from practice. I think we can win this race from seventh, especially if it’s wet. This was the first qualifying session that nothing drastic happened for us; it was the first normal session of the year. I think we wouldn’t have qualified out of the top 10 all year, pace-wise, and I think we’ve shown that in the races. We’re a little closer to the front and that’s good – we need to stay here. I expect to be here, even if a lot of people don’t (expect it), I do.”

Rene Binder and Zach Veach race through Turn 2 during practice for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Photo by: Joe Skibinski

HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA: Qualifying results

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Qualifying Saturday for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in parentheses:

Rank Car Driver Name C/E/T Time Speed Session
1. Car 1 Newgarden, Josef D/C/F 01:07.4413 122.773 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
2. Car 12 Power, Will D/C/F 01:07.4541 122.750 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
3. Car 18 Bourdais, Sebastien D/H/F 01:07.5337 122.605 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
4. Car 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan D/H/F 01:07.7807 122.159 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
5. Car 5 Hinchcliffe, James D/H/F 01:07.9472 121.859 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six – Canadian
6. Car 9 Dixon, Scott D/H/F 01:08.0303 121.710 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
7. Car 98 Andretti, Marco D/H/F 01:07.6027 122.480 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
8. Car 27 Rossi, Alexander D/H/F 01:07.7488 122.216 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
9. Car 22 Pagenaud, Simon D/C/F 01:07.8409 122.050 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
10. Car 6 Wickens, Robert (R) D/H/F 01:07.8455 122.042 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12 – Canadian
11. Car 26 Veach, Zach (R) D/H/F 01:07.9894 121.784 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
12. Car 10 Jones, Ed D/H/F 01:08.4386 120.984 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
13. Car 59 Chilton, Max D/C/F 01:08.0235 121.723 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
14. Car 23 Kimball, Charlie D/C/F 01:08.5494 120.789 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
15. Car 15 Rahal, Graham D/H/F 01:08.1038 121.579 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
16. Car 19 Claman De Melo, Zachary (R) D/H/F 01:08.5531 120.782 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
17. Car 21 Pigot, Spencer D/C/F 01:08.1184 121.553 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
18. Car 30 Sato, Takuma D/H/F 01:08.5676 120.757 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
19. Car 20 King, Jordan (R) D/C/F 01:08.3997 121.053 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
20. Car 88 Chaves, Gabby D/C/F 01:08.9763 120.041 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
21. Car 4 Leist, Matheus (R) D/C/F 01:08.5516 120.785 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
22. Car 32 Binder, Rene (R) D/C/F 01:09.5404 119.067 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
23. Car 14 Kanaan, Tony D/C/F 01:11.2015 116.290 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

IndyCar
http://www.indycar.com/
Graphics & Photos Courtesy of Indycar

Leave a Reply