Motorsport

Long Beach IndyCar: Newgarden takes pole, title rivals falter

Firestone Fast Six

Romain Grosjean was the first of the Firestone Fast Six to show his hand with a 68.7sec lap, but then Helio Castroneves – a four-time Long Beach polesitter – went top with a 68.4827sec lap.

But then Josef Newgarden delivered a 68.2241sec that put pole position apparently beyond anyone’s reach.

Scott Dixon did believe pole was on the cards, but he caught up with Castroneves’ second attempt at pole and reckoned that cost him P1. He did, however, manage to depose the Meyer Shank Racing driver.

Simon Pagenaud clinched fourth ahead of Felix Rosenqvist of Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy and Grosjean.

P

Name

FTime

Diff

FL

Laps

FSpeed

Engine

Team

1

Josef Newgarden

1:08.2241

1:08.2241

3

3

103.846

Chevy

Team Penske

2

Scott Dixon

1:08.4422

0.2181

3

3

103.515

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

3

Helio Castroneves

1:08.4827

0.2586

3

3

103.454

Honda

Meyer Shank Racing

4

Simon Pagenaud

1:08.6514

0.4273

3

3

103.200

Chevy

Team Penske

5

Felix Rosenqvist

1:08.7461

0.5220

4

4

103.057

Chevy

Arrow McLaren SP

6

Romain Grosjean

1:08.7577

0.5336

1

3

103.040

Honda

Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR

Q2

Remarkably, Penske’s #12 crew got Power out in time for Q2 and he turned the fourth fastest lap on Primaries and AMSP had also repaired Pato O’Ward’s car.

But the first driver to duck into the 68s on reds was Helio Castroneves of Meyer Shank Racing, before he was beaten by 0.35sec by Romain Grosjean with a 68.1776sec, and then edged by Simon Pagenaud.

Things turned to chaos at the close of the session when Power’s car was struggling with his gearshift – doubtless a result of the earlier impact with Harvey – and he brushed the Turn 9 wall. The two-time Long Beach winner came to a halt at Turn 10, prompting a local yellow. It appeared Scott Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist, James Hinchcliffe and Ed Jones improved their times – which would have been clearly against the rules, as Power himself discovered in qualifying at Laguna Seca – and bumped O’Ward out.

In fact only Jones was penalized – much to the irritation of AMSP team president Taylor Kiel and O’Ward.

Thus the Fast Six was set with Grosjean, Rosenqvist, Castroneves, Newgarden, Pagenaud and Dixon.

Q1 Group 2

Colton Herta set the fastest time on primary tires and stayed out an extra two laps apparently hoping to save a set of reds until the Firestone Fast Six, as he did in Nashville. Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough of a pace advantage over the opposition to make that work this time, and brushed a wall as he stayed out late on the primaries. That left him time for just one flyer on reds and it appeared the left-rear toelink gave up, and so he fell to seventh.

However, with Felix Rosenqvist topping the Group, ahead of Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves, there came news that an incident between fourth-placed Romain Grosjean of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR was under investigation for an incident with Oliver Askew of Rahal Letterman Lanigan. However, there would be no reprieve for the weekend’s fastest driver, as it was Askew, not Grosjean who was penalized with the loss of his two fastest laps.

“We were trying to save a set [of reds] for the Fast Six if we could,” said Herta. “We had enough time to do four [laps on blacks] and two [laps on reds], everybody did, we thought that would be the best [strategy]. We thought we’d be fastest on the fourth on blacks and second on reds, but we didn’t get to find out because I slapped the wall there and broke the left-rear toe link unfortunately.

“It was a handful until it eventually… well it was bent until it broke. It was my fault, unfortunately.

“It will make for an interesting race though. We’re starting 14th, we’ve got two sets of new reds, so could be a good thing and we’ll charge to the front tomorrow.”

Asked if the race was winnable, he replied: “You never know in this race, there’s going to be a lot of yellows and a lot of restarts and stuff, and we have a great car, so definitely.”

Herta’s teammate James Hinchcliffe and Ed Jones in the second Coyne car made it through.

Also commendable was Callum Ilott’s ninth fastest time for Juncos Hollinger, ahead of Askew, all three AJ Foyt Racing cars and Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing.

Q1 Group 1

Alex Palou had an alarming moment at Turn 9 on primary tires, brushed the wall at Turn 4 but went third fastest on the blacks, behind Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon, and ahead of Josef Newgarden and Will Power – and crucially, title rival Pato O’Ward. Then all 14 drivers pitted for the Firestone alternate tires.

Scott McLaughlin was the first to set a strong flyer on the reds, ahead of Power, before Palou usurped them both, and then Newgarden clocked 68.6705sec to go top, a time he trimmed to 68.5080sec to top the session. He was ahead of the Ganassi cars of Dixon and Palou.

The red flew in the dying seconds, as Jack Harvey smacked the tires hard at Turn 8. An unsighted Power was next through and clipped the Meyer Shank Racing-Honda, sustaining left-rear suspension damage and a broken wing, so although he was through to Q2 on lap times, the #12 crew was rushing to ensure his car would be ready. They were aided in the quest by the need to retrieve Harvey’s car and restack the tires.

O’Ward was fourth fastest but bent a left-rear toelink on the wall exiting Turn 4, necessitating Arrow McLaren SP’s #5 crew to make a major fix on pitlane. Hunter-Reay was the sixth fastest, whereas two-time Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi did not.

Jimmie Johnson was impressively within 1.8sec of fastest time. 

 

Q2

Q1 Group 2

Q1 Group 1

 

 

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