NEWGARDEN EARNS DXC TECHNOLOGY 600 INDYCAR POLE, LEADS TEAM PENSKE TO TOP-THREE QUALIFYING SWEEP
FORT WORTH, Texas (June 8, 2018) – Josef Newgarden paced Team Penske to a top-three sweep during Friday’s U.S. Concrete Qualifying Day for the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Newgarden, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, earned the pole position by touring Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval in a combined two-lap total of 46.9964 seconds/220.613 mph in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, the 2016 series champion, will start second after posting a two-lap average of 47.0607 seconds/220.311 mph in his No. 22 DXC Technology Chevy.
The last driver with a shot at Newgarden was teammate Will Power, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion and winner of last year’s race here. But Power’s combined run of 47.0857 seconds/220.194 mph slotted the Australian’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevy into third.
“I think this is a big boost for us, especially coming off Detroit,” said Newgarden, referring to Honda’s domination of qualifying and both races of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park last weekend. “To come here and have speed again is really nice. Comes down to the team, the personnel we have, and you see that when we go 1-2-3. That impresses me the most. Team Chevy, when you look at the speed in the Month of May and the (Indianapolis) 500, that’s a big part of it. Now that we have speed we need to figure out a way to make the tires last.”
Saturday night’s 248-lap/372-mile event will be the first contested at Texas Motor Speedway with sanctioning body INDYCAR’s new-for-2018 universal aero kit chassis built by Dallara. The chassis reportedly produces 100 fewer pounds of downforce, making the cars more difficult to handle and putting more emphasis on driver skill.
“This car is more sensitive to track temperature,” Newgarden said on a 94-degree afternoon that sent track temps around 135 degrees. “Looking after tires will be more of the equation this year. For a show, we’re trying to optimize what drivers want and what fans want. It’s a car that you can race and get close with. Guys will have to work to maintain the balance and maintain the tire life for the full stint. But I do think we’ll have a great race.”
Newgarden scored his fourth career pole, second this season, first at TMS and first on a superspeedway. Team Penske now has eight poles at Texas Motor Speedway, most of any organization. The pole also was the 259th in the history of the open-wheel juggernaut founded by Roger Penske.
Series rookie Robert Wickens led the Honda contingent in fourth at 47.2214 seconds/219.561 mph in the No. 6 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry. Rounding out the top five was Sebastien Bourdais at 47.2772 seconds/219.302 mph in the No. 18 Team SealMater Honda fielded by Dale Coyne Racing.
A field of 22 cars will compete in Saturday’s edition of “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Series Race.” Round No. 9 of the schedule will be televised on NBC Sports Network beginning at 7 p.m. CT with the pre-race show. The green flag is scheduled for 7:45 p.m.
Tickets for Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600, along with a SPEED Energy SUPER Truck Series race before and after the Verizon IndyCar Series event, are available by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 817.215.8500.