TOP 12 QUALIFYING POSITION FOR NEWGARDEN, ED CARPENTER RACING IN SEASON OPENER
Josef Newgarden Will Start 12th In Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) March 12, 2016 – Qualifying Notes
Josef Newgarden will roll off the grid from the 12th position in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. It will be the first race of 16 on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.
After setting the 6th fastest time in an earlier practice session today, Newgarden was assigned to Group 1 of Round 1 for qualifications. He took to the track with four minutes to go after switching to a set of sticker red alternate Firestone Firehawks. On his 5th lap, he jumped up to 1st. Though he dropped to 4th by the end of the 10 minute session, it was still enough to advance to the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet to Round 2.
The Fuzzy’s Vodka crew placed scuffed primary black Firehawks back on the car for the beginning of Round 2 qualifications. Newgarden came into the pits for a switch to another set sticker reds, then moved up to 3rd on his first flying lap. By the end of the session, he had fallen to 12th, where he will start tomorrow’s 110-lap race.
Newgarden’s best finish around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course came in 2014 when the Hendersonville, Tenn.-native finished 9th. In 2015, Newgarden started 10th and finished 12th despite having a damaged front wing.
Ed Carpenter Racing and Josef Newgarden both made their respective IndyCar debuts in St. Petersburg. The 2012 race in the downtown streets of the Florida city was the first for ECR, Carpenter’s newly-formed team. Newgarden’s first IndyCar start came the same day with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing on the heels of his 2011 Firestone Indy Lights championship.
For the first four events of 2016, Newgarden’s No. 21 will feature a special paint scheme depicting the newest addition to the Fuzzy’s Vodka portfolio. The Commemorative 100th Running Limited Edition bottle, which celebrates the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, will be available in early April.
Newgarden, who turned 25 in December, is coming off the best season of his Verizon IndyCar Series career. He earned his first win only four races into the 2015 season at Barber Motorsports Park, then led teammate Filippi to the team’s first ever 1-2 finish in the streets of Toronto in June. Highlights of Newgarden’s year also included two additional podium finishes, capturing his first career pole position at the Milwaukee Mile and leading the most laps (345) of all drivers in 2015. Heading into the final race of the year, Newgarden was one of six drivers that remained eligible for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship and would finish 7th in the standings.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on ABC at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, March 13.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 21 FUZZY’S VODKA CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 12TH: “I felt pretty positive all day, but it’s perplexing why we didn’t have the speed there in qualifying. Sometimes this is a perplexing track! You can have good balance, the car can feel like it has good grip but you just don’t have the speed. We’ll try and get it sorted for tomorrow and have a good racecar. We’ve got a great crew here with the Fuzzy’s Vodka boys, I’m not worried about doing a good job and executing during the race. I feel confident still, it’s just a shame we couldn’t be a little bit quicker. I felt like we had more performance than what we showed, the car was really good and it felt good, it just wasn’t quick enough.”