CHEVY NTT INDYCAR SERIES STREETS OF ST. PETE: Will Power puts Chevy on the Pole for Season Finale





OCT. 24, 2020

Pato O’Ward also power his Chevrolet into the Firestone Fast Six. The driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet will start six for th in tomorrow’s 100-lap race.

Title contender Josef Newgarden qualified the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet in eight. His competition for a third title will start 11th.
Remainder of the Firestone Fast Six are Alexander Rossi, Colton Herta, James Hinchcliffe and Jack Harvey.

Schedule for tomorrow’s season finale is:

Sunday, Oct. 25
10:40-11:10 a.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES warm-up, NBC Sports Gold
2:27 p.m.: “Drivers, start your engines”
2:30 p.m.: NBC on air
2:32 p.m.: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (100 laps/180 miles), NBC (live)

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES season finale will also broadcast live on Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205, and on the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA.


WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, POLE WINNER:“It is so good to have Verizon back on the pole. Very, very good laps, both of the last two. The other guys had fre:sh tires so I thought okay we’ll see. We’ll see what they’ve got. I hustled the heck out of it. I was very very happy to get pole, I have the same approach everywhere I race, I lo7TH =ve my craft and try to get the max out of it. We are going to do our best to get a good race pace from the start and get Chevy in Victory Lane.”

PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 6TH:“The practice wasn’t great for us but we made our way back to the front part of the field during qualifying. The No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet is starting on the third row so we can try and win the race from there. It’s going to be tough to pass and pit stop wiST.ndows aren’t going to be as big as they used to be, because the race is ten laps shorter. I think if we have a good, consistent race and good pit stops, we should be in contention in the end.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 14 AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 7TH: “A much better start to the weekend here in St. Petersburg compared to our starting positions obviously in Indy, so really proud of the group on the 14 car. It’s still touch and go, you never know what you’re going to get, but it all worked out today. We’ll get P7 out of qualifying and start there tomorrow so looking forward to it and thanks for everybody’s support.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 1 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 8TH:“I definitely had a lot of slides out there and just wasn’t clean. I think if we had put together one clean lap, it would have been enough to transfer. We just didn’t do the job. It makes out job for tomorrow a little harder, but we are still going to go for the win with the Hitachi Chevy boys! We can win from eighth, made it a little harder, but we can do it. I have full confidence that my Hitachi guys and Team Chevy have given us what we need.”

RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 SONAX ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET QUALIFIED 9TH“That was a little stressful between sessions! I had a really good lap to advance. In Round 2, I made a little correction in the las corner which cost me about a tenth of a second. I think I could have made it if that didn’t happen, but that’s racing! Starting 9th is still pretty good! I’m happy with the SONAX Chevy and I cannot wait to send it tomorrow.”

OLIVER ASKEW,  NO. 7 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 10TH: “I haven’t been in an Indy car in a bit over a month, so I was a bit rusty. But it was great to be back here at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Big shoutout to everyone at INDYCAR and Green Savoree for making this event happen. To have it as a season finale is pretty incredible. It’s a home race for me, and I’ll have some family out here tomorrow that I hope to put on a good show for them and Arrow McLaren SP in my final race.”

SIMON PAGENAUD, NO. 22 DXC TECHNOLOGY TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 12TH :“I’m sure happy. The Menards Chevrolet has been really good all day long. We’ve made some big improvement, which is encouraging for 2021. In that last session, Dixon was in front of me the whole run. So we were stuck behind him and I had to do my laps. I’ve just not been on the right side of the stick this year in qualifying. We had a car fast enough for the Fast Six no question, but Dixon was the slowest car on the track.”

CONOR DALY, NO. 20 U.S. AIR FORCE ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 14TH:  “Obviously an interesting qualifying session for us! We thought we were in, we didn’t know we were in, we didn’t know we were out and then we were out. We’re starting 14th which is okay. We need a little but more out of the car and I need to deliver the right information to help us get there. We can have a good day tomorrow, for sure. We just have to stay in the fight, move forward and use some good strategy. We have definitely made progress with the U.S. Air Force Chevrolet and I am looking forward to tomorrow!”

CHARLIE KIMBALL, NO. 4 TRESIBA AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 20TH”: “It’s nice to be back with fans and nice to be back at St. Pete. It feels strange to be ending the season here and running our last qualifying of the year instead of our first qualifying of the year. It is nice to be back at a street circuit because that’s one of the places where INDYCAR really shines. Man, it’s really tight here at St. Pete. We were just within a couple tenths of advancing the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet into the top 12, I think it was something like .3 of a percent we were off – really small – but there is definitely room to improve the car and we’ll do that overnight and be ready to go racing tomorrow. There’s always a little bit of chaos that seems to happen here at St Pete and we’ll just be ready to take advantage of it.” 

SCOTT McLAUGHLIN, NO. 3 SHELL V-POWER NITRO+TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 21ST“We were probably better than where we ended up. But I stuffed up my red tire lap – I just need to get used to the grip. It was nice in practice because I had a lot of black tire runs but only got one on the red and it was the same in qualifying. I’m not making any excuses, with a little more time we will be ok. I’m disappointed with myself, but it is what it is. It’s tough to learn on a road course and learning the space around you. I’m used to knocking mirrors off on a wall, not necessarily my tire. We are just pushing trying to find our limits in a fast forward motion. I just need to thank everyone with Shell V-Power Nitro, Team Penske and everyone. We will have a go at it tomorrow.”



THE MODERATOR: Will, it is your ninth pole at St. Pete, your 62nd pole overall in your career. You are now within five of tying Mario Andretti. It is your fifth pole of the year. Obviously a great day for you. Tell us about your run.

WILL POWER: It was a typical very tough qualifying session, the first few rounds. Made some slight changes. The car wasn’t perfect at first. It does take a long time to turn on, so you could not do it like last year on your first lap. Your second and third lap are really the best laps on the tires. Kind of played around with that a little bit.

Yeah, I mean, when I saw what Colton did on blacks in the first round, I saved some reds. I thought this is going to be really tough. But when I went out in the second round and made the car a bit better, made a mistake. I said, Okay, we’re kind of close. Then I went all out in the Fast Six to get the most out of the car. It was enough.Yeah, really, really happy with it. I thought we played it very well strategy-wise. Just very determined to win the race tomorrow, I really am. I really want to convert that pole into a win and finish on a high.I know we’re, what, whatever points away from Colton. It will be nice to be third in the championship, but for me it’s more about finishing with a win. I’ll be aggressive to do that. We’ll see how we go. 

Q.We heard from Alex Rossi, he talked about the physicality of what it was like out there doing several laps. Looking at tomorrow’s race, very hot, very physical, what do you have to do tonight to prepare yourself for that challenge tomorrow?

WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, you’ve got to hydrate very well. I think I would consider adding that scoop to the top of the roll. I think it’s actually a drag, a downforce loss. It does hurt the performance a bit, but it gets so hot in there, so physical, I just wonder if physically you’d be way better off with it. Maybe I’ll try that in warmup tomorrow.

Q.I know you want to win the race. Of course you have a teammate that wants to win a championship. If for some reason Scott Dixon is way down in the line, Josef is only one position away from getting a championship, has that ever crossed your mind what you might do?

WILL POWER: Yeah, it has. I mean, obviously if that’s the situation, I would let him go.

Q.Next year you’re going to have a teammate from New Zealand, Scott McLaughlin. Being your two countries are close together, any rivalry?

WILL POWER: I’m sure that he wants to come in and beat me and everyone else because he’s a tough competitor. But he’s a lot younger, he has a pretty good future ahead of him. He’s in the right team. I think he’ll do real well, I really do.Yeah, I mean, no different to the rivalry that I have with Scott Dixon. He’s a Kiwi, too, yeah.

Q.You’re only five poles away from Mario Andretti. What would that mean to you if you were able to break that record? That’s stood for a long time.

WILL POWER: That would mean a lot. That would be a great achievement for me personally, to be up there with a name like Mario Andretti. It’s something that I just love about racing, is when you get to absolutely get the most out of the car in one lap. That’s qualifying.

To be at the top of the list for that would almost sum up my career, I guess, as far as being the speed that I have, maybe not the championships. Certainly a lot of race wins, as well.

Q.You’re now back to a four-car team. How do you kind of look at that, how it’s going to play out with a new guy coming in?

WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, we’ve obviously been there before. It’s more information. Obviously Scott is going to be in a learning year, kind of understanding qualifying, how the races go. I think this will give him a good head start this weekend.

Yeah, I feel like it’s four pretty strong drivers. I mean, yeah, I’ve been there before. I know how it is. Engineering office gets pretty busy. Yeah, should be good.

Q.You’re going to get some old favorites back from a crew side coming from the IMSA side. How important will that be to have them back with an INDYCAR program?

WILL POWER: Yeah, it’s actually a good influx of really good people. It will just help on the engineering side of things. Obviously you’ve got a bigger crew to pick from as far as crews.

Yeah, all positives really when you add another car.

Q.What is your karting schedule going to look like this season?

WILL POWER: Karting? I was going to race a club race next weekend but then I realized I’m testing a couple days after, so probably shouldn’t risk it. Yeah, I love the karting. No Vegas this year, unfortunately. They called that off.

Q.Where is your mindset in terms of this being the last race of the year with the circumstances of how this season has gone with COVID? What would it mean for you to finish on a strong note this weekend?

WILL POWER: It would be amazing to win the last race of the season, it really would. It would really make this year worthwhile for me. I would feel very good about it. Get to go on vacation feeling good about the finish of the year.Super determined about converting the pole into a win. Obviously circumstances are going to play out. I’ll do the best job I can. That’s all I can do. See if we can get the car well so it lasts really well over a stint.

Yeah, that’s the plan. It’s been a trying season, I’ll have to say, the beginning of it. We’re knocking on the door every weekend, so we have to, we have to come into next year with very solid pit stops and solid races and we have to get ourselves in a championship position so we’re not in a hole having to dig ourselves out the whole way. It’s just been too many years we’ve done that.That’s a huge focus of mine going into next year.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll let Will Power go and focus for tomorrow’s race.


THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us. We are at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg post qualifying video conference. We are joined by Josef Newgarden.Josef, qualifying didn’t work out the way you wanted, but you’ll start eighth, three spaces ahead of Scott Dixon, who you’re chasing in the championship chase tomorrow. Tell us how your qualifying went and what your expectations are for tomorrow.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Certainly not what we wanted on our side. I felt like we took a swing for Q2. Our Q1 run was pretty good. I was pretty happy with it for the most part. Felt like we chipped away on the next couple runs, a couple things to get us more competitive. Felt like we were there, but we just wanted to probably be aggressive and try to get even further up. I think we ended up probably going the wrong way with our adjustments.

Kind of a scrappy qualifying in Q2. Unfortunately that puts us eighth. Not a terrible spot to start, but not where we wanted. We wanted to be closer to the front, top three, top five group.

A little more work to do for tomorrow, but feel positive about our Hitachi car, think Team Chevy has done a good job this weekend. Good confidence that we have something to attack with.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions for Josef.

Q.How happy are you to have Will Power up front? Being a bit of a rear gunner for you as you make your way to the front of the field.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I don’t know that it’s really relevant for us. I mean, we needed to be up front on a day like today. He did a great job. I felt like we were capable of being up there, too. Not sure I feel really one way or the other about him being up there. It was more about we needed to be up there.I don’t think he can help us from that position, nothing like that. We just got to put our work in for tomorrow now.

Q.Case of every man for himself tomorrow?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don’t know that Will is going to be able to help us do anything when we’re sitting eighth. That’s just the way it goes.

Q.In terms of the race tomorrow, is it going flat out, see what happens?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, we need to look at everything. I’m not sure yet what our plan will be. I think it will be a pretty aggressive race for most people as far as running pretty hard on fuel. I don’t think you’ll see a ton of fuel save. But there’s options there, big options. We’ll see what everyone decides to do at the end of the day.

Q.How do you think Scott McLaughlin got on?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Really good. Obviously first qualifying session for him. Not a lot of track time. I thought he was really good in the first session, seemed to adapt quick. I don’t know, I haven’t seen his run. I don’t even know what happened in qualifying. Could have been a lot of different things that pushed him back.He’s going to be just fine. Just him getting going today.

Q.In regards to what happened out there today, was it a direction that you went in with the team that went the wrong way or do you feel maybe a lack of running on Fridays may have contributed today?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: No, we had a really poor Q2 right from the jump of Q2. On the black tires I was half a second slower than I was in Q1. The adjustments that we did in between didn’t seem to really pan out.

It’s disappointing. I think if we just had our form for Q1, we would have been okay. We took a swing at it and it was the wrong way to go. It’s one of those deals. You try sometimes, sometimes you try the wrong way.

Q.In regards to the whole weekend, do you like the two-day weekend or would you want something longer?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I love the three-day weekends personally. I’ve always enjoyed that. For me, I do enjoy more days. Also for the process of how you work, your kind of workflow of sifting through information, the way you prepare to roll into a weekend, how you kind of manage an event, I’ve always liked the three-day format.

If we don’t ever go back to that, it’s not a big deal. We’ll adapt, run this way. I think we’ve been okay on this format this year for the most part. If I had a preference, I like the three day, but we’ll see what ends up getting decided for the future.

Q.I want to know what is the mindset that you will use now? You have to reset everything? How do you focus on your goal?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Same as always. If this was any other weekend, we’d be doing the same thing. It’s disappointing we qualified eighth, but it’s not the worst position. We have a little more work to do. We’re going to focus on what strategy we can implement, being good at the start, manage a really good race that hopefully can produce a win. It’s as simple as that. We’re going to treat the as any other.

Q.Do you think it’s something about the yellow flags always happens in the race could help you?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It would be beautiful if it helped us for once. We have not had help from yellows this year. But it is possible. You can have a yellow ruin your race, you can a yellow really help your race. Tomorrow if a yellow flag decides to help us, I’m not going to complain about it. I think it would be good for some payback for the year.

Q.Do you go in with an aggressive strategy? Do you expect Scott to go with a very conservative strategy?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Hard to say with Dixon what they’ll do. For us, I think we’ll treat it as normal when we’re trying to win a race. We try to win every race. I don’t know how to spin it differently. We do the same thing every time.We’re going to focus on what’s the best strategy for us with where we’re sitting in eighth. How can we manage the race better than the people around us with the fuel usage, all that. When is the right time to push and not push.I don’t think it will be more aggressive or less aggressive than what we normally are. We’re just going to try to charge the front. It would have been nice to be in the top three, top five. Top eight, we’re not too far back. It just makes it a little bit harder.

Q.What were you thinking during the lengthy delay while they sorted out the scoring?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It was painful. It was hard to understand what was going on. Yeah, we were just sitting there waiting. I still don’t know a lot of details. I know they were kind of working through yellow flags and penalties, all that stuff. It was a long wait, that’s all it was for everybody.