• Honda-powered driver qualifies second at 1.5-mile high bank oval
• First Saturday night race of 2014
In the best qualifying performance of his Verizon IndyCar Series career, Josef Newgarden led the Honda-powered field Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, and will start on the outside of the front row, second, in Saturday night’s Firestone 600.
In his third year with the small, single-car team, Newgarden has five top-10 qualifying performances in eight races this season, and his two-lap average of 217.835 miles per hour was bested only by pole qualifier Will Power. Other top-10 Honda qualifiers today included Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner Simon Pagenaud, sixth; 2012 Texas race winner Justin Wilson, eighth; and Andretti Autosport teammates James Hinchcliffe and Carlos Munoz ninth and tenth, respectively.
Saturday’s 248-lap run, the first Saturday night race of 2014, starts at 7 p.m. with live network television coverage on the NBC Sports network.
Josef Newgarden(#78 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda) 2nd fastest in qualifying: “I was happily surprised [to qualify second], to be honest with you. We mainly worked on race [setups] in the morning practice; we did not trim out [for a simulated qualifying run] at all. Tire degradation [rapid wear] is so important here, we focused on that. So for qualifying, we just ‘threw a setup’ on the car and it was really, really fast. Our car was fast and easy to drive. If anything, it was a little too easy. Sometimes that’s the case. You get a little ‘mojo’ on your side and it’s great.Normally, that bodes well for us, so I’m optimistic for the race. The race, with five pit stops, is a whole different ballgame [from qualifying]. But this is our third year together [with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing], and I think we have just as good a chance of winning tomorrow night as anyone else out there.”