CHEVROLET IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES
GMR GRAND PRIX
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE
TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS CAPTURE THREE OF FIRESTONE FAST SIX
JOSEF NEWGARDEN NABBED FRONT ROW STARTING POSITION FOR SATURDAY’S 85-LAP RACE
INDIANAPOLIS (May 14, 2021)
In one of the most interesting and exciting knockout qualifying sessions for the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the Firestone Fast Six was one of the most surprising this season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
Two-time Series’ champion Josef Newgarden powered his No. 2 Snap On Team Penske Chevrolet to the outside of the front row next to surprise pole winner former F1 driver and INDYCAR rookie Romain Grosjean.
Adding to the excitement of two Rookie-of-the-Year contenders in the FAST SIX, Team Chevy’s and Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin put the No.3 PPG Chevrolet in the fifth starting position.
Continuing the trend of excitement was Conor Daly. No. 20 U.S. Air Force Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet scoring the sixth starting spot.
Jack Harvey and Alex Palou rounded out the Fast Six.
Live coverage of the 100-lap race starts at 2:30 pm ET Saturday afternoon on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
|TEAM CHEVY QUALIFIERS:|
|2. Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Snap OnTeam Penske|
|5. Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 PPG Team Penske|
|6. Conor Daly, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Ed Carpenter Racing|
|7. Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Ed Carpenter Racing|
|10. Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Menards Team Penske|
|12. Will Power, No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske|
|13. Felix Rosenqvist, No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP|
|18. Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP|
|20. Sebastien Bourdais, No. 14 ROKiT AJ Foyt Racing|
|21. Charlie Kimball, No. 11 Tresiba AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet|
|24 Dalton Kellett, No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA AJ Foyt Racing|
|25. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP|
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 SNAP-ON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 2nd
“I had Tim Cindric in my ear like always, he was telling me where we were at. I did a pretty good lap to be honest with you, I wasn’t dissatisfied with it, I think I was within a tenth of what was ultimately possible so we just got beat, Grosjean did a great job. I’ve been very happy with our pace, it’s a lot of work to finish second, it’s kind of funny to be disappointed with that, but I think we’ve got a good vantage point for tomorrow and we can focus on the main thing which is trying to get through this race and win, I mean winning at the end of the day is what’s most important so we’ve got to put our best foot forward for tomorrow.”
SURPRISED ABOUT GROSJEAN ON POLE:
“I mean look, Grosjean’s a great driver, I’m not surprised that he’s adapted super well, much like Scott McLaughlin, like he’s done a stellar job, he’s right on the pace but you can jump in any car in this series and have a shot at winning, you really can and I think that’s the great thing about what IndyCar is right now is that there’s so much parity, so much competition, you don’t know who’s going to win each weekend. It’s tough on us, we’d love to have an advantage and know we’ve got a little more cushion every weekend but it’s not guaranteed. But ultimately we’ve put in a lot of work here, I think it’s the camaraderie at Team Penske that makes us successful, great partners like Snap-On and Team Chevy. So we think we have what we need to get on top of these people tomorrow but it’s no easy task beating anybody nowadays.”
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN, NO. 3 PPG TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 5TH
DID YOU EXPECT TO MAKE THE FAST SIX THIS QUICKLY?
“It was a goal of ours this weekend. To be honest with you, we really wanted to push that top-10. We’ve been close before, especially at St. Pete. But I’m really proud of the effort from the PPG Chevy team there on the No. 3 car. We were methodical all day. We just like slowly chipped away at it and we had a really good car for qualifying. So, it’s amazing for Romaine Grosjean and the sport for him to come back and get the pole so soon. It’s a privilege to be in the rookie class with him and I’m excited to race him tomorrow.”
WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST KEY OF YOUR ACCLIMATION IN GETTING UP THERE WHERE NOW YOU’RE RUNNING WITH THE FRONT GUYS?
“It’s nice and we’re right up front with the pit box too; we can have pit allocation in the right spot. For me, we’ve just been slowly chipping away at it with baby steps. I’m learning the car every time. I didn’t quite get the lap in the Fast Six, but it takes a little bit of time to bring the Adrenalin down. That’s what I found just then. You get so excited. You’re in the Fast Six, you’re in the Fast Six; and then you’ve got to settle yourself down and get your mind back on the job. Once I get my mind set right and a few other things, we’ll be good.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT BEING THE MONTH OF MAY, WE’RE AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, AND YOU’RE GOING TO RACE IN THE INDY 500?
“Yeah, it’s amazing. I’m really privileged to be here and driving for the Captain, as well. Our Shell Pennzoil car is going to be fast, I think, across the month. I’ve just got to do right job and listen to the right people and I’ve got Rocket Rick Mears in my corner, so I’m just going to listen to a legend of the sport and enjoy it and suck it all in. I’m just like a sponge right now. It’s a bit surreal. But when you walk out of this.”
CONOR DALY, NO. 20 U.S. AIR FORCE CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 6thYOU SHOULD BE HAPPY WITH STARTING P6 TOMORROW AFTERNOON
“Honestly, it feels like a win compared to how this win has gone so far. The last time I was in a car I was upside down and almost on fire. So, we’re really, really excited, especially for our new partner with MannKind and Needlefreeinsulin.com. It’s their first INDYCAR race so, to make the Fast Six is awesome. This field is so incredibly competitive. I’m just super thankful for the work that this team has done because it’s been difficult to get this car how I like it. It really, really has. And we’ve made some changes to get there, and we’ve just got to finish the weekend off now. So, that’s the goal.”
YOUR LAST TIME IN A RACE CAR YOU WERE UPSIDE DOWN, SO THIS SHOULD FEEL A LITTLE BIT BETTER TO BE RIGHT SIDE UP
“Ha, let me tell you, it’s a lot better to be right side up. This is my home track. I love seeing people here again. It’s such a great crowd, it looks like, today. I’m just super, super grateful to see our fans back here and Roger Penske and the Speedway have done such a great job. It will be a good race tomorrow.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON 5G TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – QUALIFIED 12TH:
“I had a very loose car. We were going to be fine, but it stalled. I was having trouble with the clutch and stall because we could’ve driven back into the pits and been fine but unfortunately we caused a red and then you can’t continue. But at least we’re 12th, that’s better than 20th at St. Petersburg, so yeah.”
FRUSTRATION: “Yeah, just so crazy how the car can change so much from session to session and it’s the second race on a road course that we’ve had. I think we would’ve been okay in that session had I not made a mistake, so I’m very frustrated with myself.”
BEING SO CLOSE:
“When it’s that loose, it’s so hard, you’ve got to be so on top of the car and the rear just doesn’t ever bite and you just keep having big moments. My mistake, not happy with myself.”
PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET,QUALIFIED 18TH:
“We’ve been off-pace ever since the first practice. We rolled out of the gates weak and we just don’t have pace. I don’t know why. We just have to check why. We were solid here every time we have come and just this time around is just trash. So, we’ll see. It’s going to be a long race tomorrow and we just have to try to fix her up for a long run and see what we’ve got, honestly.”
ARE THERE STRATEGY OPTIONS FOR TOMORROW’S RACE?
“Yeah, there should be different strategy choices that we can go through. It doesn’t seem like it is going to be just the option of fuel saving and going long so. Hopefully we’ll have a good strategy. We’ll make up traffic position in the undercuts or the overcuts and hopefully that puts us better than where we start. If we get a top 7 finish or so tomorrow, that should be pretty solid.”
POST QUALIFYING TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: We’ve also been joined by Josef Newgarden, driver of the No. 2 Snap-on Team Penske Chevrolet.
You started second at the Harvest GP and won the race last year…
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It’s a tremendous amount of work to qualify second. Obviously you don’t want to get pipped right at the very end. Romain does a great job, super top shelf talent, so not surprised to see him getting on pretty well with the car.
I think that’s the great thing about this series: you can jump in almost any car in the grid and have a shot at competing for a win or for a pole, which makes it tough on all of us. You lose a 10th or two here, make a small mistake, I nearly didn’t make it into the Fast Six because I made a mistake into turn one in Q2, had a small lockup. It nearly kicked me out of the Fast Six. It’s that tight for everybody.
It will be a tough race tomorrow. We’re excited. I think we have a fast car. Tomorrow is what is really going to matter, too. We’re going to keep our heads down and focus on our race car now.
Q. Or do you think because it’s up to him to set the pace, he’s going to have a natural advantage anyway?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: No, I mean, look, we haven’t talked about it, but he’s seen a couple starts now. I think he’s going to be just fine rolling into this.
Look, the idea of the start, too, is to obviously for the polesitter, he sets the pace. He wants to maintain his advantage, which he has the right to do. I think for the rest of us, for me, I want to get through the start. I’ve seen enough starts here gone bad in turn one. Let’s get through the start and then we can start hammering on each other, figuring out where the pace is, our strengths and weaknesses.
He’ll be just fine. He’s seen a couple, knows the rules. He’s plenty experienced. I’m sure we’ll get through okay and get racing.
Q. Last year you said one of the reasons you got your first win at this course was because your car was the most consistent from reds to blacks. Is that what you found so far this weekend?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It seems that way. It’s been very consistent across the board, all conditions. When it was cooler in the morning, when it warmed up in the afternoon, it’s kind of maintained its performance. Yeah, I’m hoping that is a value for us tomorrow.
It’s hard to say. We need to get through the warmup, kind of see how the tires behave. There’s just small intricacies to them, right? You lose a couple 10ths a lap around this place, it can mean a lot over a long distance.
Yeah, I think that’s our advantage, is that we’ve had a very consistent car. We’re going to try to put it to use tomorrow.
Q. Josef, do you think fans really realize how close this series is now, the difference between you guys on a road course infinitesimal almost? What do you attribute that to?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: A lot of it’s down to the evolution of the series. We’ve had this chassis for a long time. I think we’re going on 10 years for the same car. Obviously it’s gone through some iterations with safety development, aero development. But really the mechanical package has not changed.
I think what you’re seeing is up and down the grid there’s no real advantages any more. A lot of the engineers have circulated in the paddock, and so have the drivers. You’re seeing teams that pretty much have the same stuff. There’s no real large gains to be made.
Even us at Team Penske with all the resource and might that we have, we have to rely on our camaraderie and our instincts and our talent amongst the drivers to get the most out of a weekend. It’s really not an advantage that’s putting us ahead of the pack, it’s the way we work together.
Yeah, I think it’s tremendously exciting. I think people do recognize how close INDYCAR is right now. Just a small slipup can put you to the back. I think Alonso was a great example. He came to Indy in 2017 for the first time. Had a good car, qualified up front, raced up front. Came back two years later, didn’t make the race.
You can have polar opposite results. You can come in and be very good, come back and not have a very good result. That’s how tight it is. The details really matter. I think it’s very fun as a driver to get the most out of that. It really puts the emphasis on you working with the team, getting the most out of yourself and the most out of the team around you. That’s really fun because that’s the environment I think we grew up wanting to be in, is a place where we make a difference.
I love that about the INDYCAR SERIES. I hope people recognize that.
Q. Josef, you have some former winners and fast guys starting in the back. How cognizant are you going to be of those guys coming up through the field? There’s some big names shuffled out through the rest of the field.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: As you know, a race can get turned on its head pretty quickly. You can be leading one minute, a bad yellow comes out, you can be put to the back. Anything is possible nowadays.
We’re going to try to guard ourselves from the unknowns, which is very hard to do. Sometimes you can’t do much about it. The race just doesn’t work out your way.
Yeah, it’s a mixed-up grid. I was really surprised where some people qualified. I think that will make it exciting for the show. If there’s an interesting caution thrown somewhere, you may see a really mixed-up race. They’re all important. We got a good vantage point for the start. We’re going to try to focus on our race and have a good day tomorrow.
Q. Josef, obviously you’re starting up front. What do you think you need to do tomorrow to get the win? Just execute everything well?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think so. Just a good, clean day. Normally the first ingredient, getting through any messes.
It’s impossible to say these days. These races turn into all different directions half the time. But if it’s a clean day, I think tire degradation is important here. Fuel conservation can be important. I think tomorrow will be different, seeing that we have bigger windows. Just depends on the way yellows fall or don’t fall.
But yeah, keeping a clean, cool head and executing. Executing at the end of the day is what’s most important.
Q. Josef, yourself and Alex Palou are the only drivers in the top six with an INDYCAR win. What are the fans witnessing here this season in INDYCAR?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Are you talking for this year? A win for this year?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I haven’t gotten one.
Q. Every driver in the top six, yourself and Alex are the only ones with a win in INDYCAR.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Oh, I understand. You’re saying at any point.
Look, I saw the Fast Six. I was surprised by the grid order. It’s getting impossible to predict how these are going to go, especially in qualifying. You can have an impressive run up to qualifying, feel good in practice, get into qualifying and all of a sudden it goes completely different, either positive or negative. It can go a good way, too.
Yeah, you’re just seeing parity is what you’re seeing. There’s a youth movement. There’s some experienced guys that are coming in, guys like Grosjean and Scott McLaughlin. Having Jimmie, it’s a very diverse field. You have people from all walks. So I think it’s really unique to watch right now.
I think it’s just as competitive as it’s always been, if not the most competitive we’ve ever had it. It’s always hard to say that. Everyone wants to say it’s the golden era when they’re in. I’ve not seen it more competitive in my time than what it is right now.
Q. Josef, you obviously had a rough start to the season in Barber. You’ve had a strong car since then. Do you feel like you’ve sufficiently come back from the bad opening race at this point?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I mean, we tried to obviously just jump back on the horse immediately after Barber, so to speak. It was not obviously the start we dreamed of. It was kind of an unusual start for us.
But, yeah, I think we had good cars. We had a good car in Barber. That was the most disappointing thing about that day, I think we had a really good race car. We never got to prove that out.
Life goes on. Moved on to the next event, had a good car again. We’ve tried to methodically work back into our rhythm, which you have to do. You have to have a very resilient team. I know my guys specifically on the 2 car are very resilient. We focus forward.
Whenever we hit a bump, we brush it off and move on. That’s what we did from that point onwards. I feel very positive about where we’re at. We’ve had a good cadence going into the month of May. I hope that rings true for tomorrow, but more so for the 500, which is going to be very important for all of us.
Q. Josef, after last year and all the restrictions, coming here with no fans, nobody in Gasoline Alley, how cool was it today to have to fight through fans to get in and out of Gasoline Alley?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It was nice. It’s not what it used to be. We’re not fully back to that point. But just to have a little of the energy back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway I think is phenomenal. This place is made for fans. It’s made by the fans.
It takes a little more time for us to move around, but I think that’s the way it should be. It’s great to have that energy. You cannot replicate this place, especially on race day for the 500 without fans.
I’m excited that everyone has put in so much effort from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, from Roger and the entire team, everyone at INDYCAR. I think what people don’t realize is that this series and this track has gone above and beyond to figure out a way to bring fans back this year, and last year. Didn’t happen last year, but the amount of effort that was put in behind the scenes to make it happen is really commendable.
I’m super happy to see people back. I hope they’re happy enough with what we’ve been able to do for this year, continuing the tradition. As soon as we can have everyone back at full capacity, there’s no one that wants that here more than Roger and the entire team.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Josef. We’ll see you tomorrow for the GMR Grand Prix.