Rookie Newgarden Sails to the Front Row in Long Beach


LONG BEACH, Calif., April 14, 2012 – Rookie Josef Newgarden sailed through Saturday’s qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to qualify seventh with a lap of 1 minute, 9.0697 seconds at 102.575 mph.

However, Newgarden’s Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone car will actually start second in Sunday’s race because all 11 IZOD IndyCar Series cars powered by Chevrolet engines incurred a 10-spot grid penalty after unapproved engine changes. Newgarden will move up to the front row alongside Dario Franchitti.

“We wanted to qualify up front outright, but we have a good spot to start from tomorrow,” Newgarden said. “The car was just unbelievable.”

For the first time in his IZOD IndyCar series career, Newgarden advanced out of the first round of knockout style qualifying with the fastest speed of his group of thirteen drivers. He went on to miss advancing to the Firestone Fast Six by one position.

“I’m bummed we didn’t make it to the Firestone Fast Six because I think we had a little more speed to pull out of the car,” Newgarden said.

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing has made a steady improvement in qualifying for the first three races of the 2012 Izod IndyCar Series season.

“The coolest thing for the team is that each time we’ve qualified, we’ve ended up higher than the previous race,” Newgarden said. “We haven’t gone backwards yet.”

Ryan Briscoe qualified on pole position with a lap speed of 1 minute, 08.6089 seconds. Briscoe will move back to the 11th starting position after being penalized for his Chevrolet engine’s unapproved change. Dario Franchitti will start from pole position.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will air live on the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, April 15.

Of Note:

  • During the Saturday morning practice session and qualifying, Newgarden was unable to hear his team on his in-car radio. Despite the setback, Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing scored their best qualifying effort yet. The team is working to rectify the issue for race day.
  • Scott Pruett, a seasoned driver with more than 10 starts in the Long Beach Grand Prix, stopped by the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing transporter to give Newgarden a few words of advice. “If you stay patient and wait for the other drivers to make mistakes, the race will come to you,” Pruett said to Newgarden in the SFHR transporter. “You’ll be amazed how high your position is at the end of the race if you keep your driving clean.”
  • In 2011 Newgarden competed in the Firestone Indy Lights race on the Streets of Long Beach and finished 13th. He started the race in third and led 31 laps before a crash ended his day. Newgarden went on to win the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights championship.
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