Newgarden Will Start From 3rd, Spencer Pigot Qualifies 19th
LEXINGTON, Ohio (July 30, 2016) – Qualifying Notes
For the third time in as many years, Josef Newgarden advanced to the Firestone Fast 6 during qualifications at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Today’s qualifying effort has given him the 3rd starting position for tomorrow’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, while teammate Spencer Pigot will start 19th.
With their times from this morning's practice session, both Newgarden and Pigot were assigned to Group 1 of Round 1 qualifications. After beginning the session on primary black Firestone Firehawks, both Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka drivers came into the pits for a switch to the alternate red Firehawks.
On red tires, Newgarden went to the top of the time sheets. By the end of the session, his quick lap of 1:04.3739 was good for 2nd, advancing him to Round 2.
Pigot sat 5th after his run on black tires. On reds, he set a fast time of 1:05.1891. His lap put him 10th in the group, giving him the 19th place starting position for tomorrow's 90-lap race.
Right before the start of Round 2, moisture was reported around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course. Newgarden elected the start the session on scuffed red tires, hoping to set a quick lap in case rain intensified. He sat 8th after his run on the scuffed reds, but a switch to sticker reds sent him straight to the first position. He fell to 5th by the end of the 10-minute session but moved on to the Fast 6 with a lap of 1:04.3347.
The sun came out for Round 3 when Newgarden turned three laps on scuffed red tires. At the checkered flag, his lap of 1:04.1200 was good enough for a 3rd place starting position for tomorrow's race.
Newgarden has returned to Mid-Ohio with the hopes of taking care of unfinished business from the past two years. In 2015 he was on a strategy that had him solidly on the podium, but was caught out by an untimely caution period and finished 13th. Newgarden started on the front row in 2014 and had just taken the lead of the race when he came in for his final pit stop. After running over an air hose, he was forced to serve a drive-through penalty and had to settle for 12th.
Pigot’s last outing at Mid-Ohio helped vault him into contention for the 2015 Indy Lights championship. After he finished 3rd during the second Indy Lights race at Mid-Ohio last year, Pigot sat only six points behind in the standings. Once he won the final two races of the season and clinched the championship, Pigot graduated to the Verizon IndyCar Series for 2016. Mid-Ohio will be only the 8th race of his Indy car career.
Not only has Newgarden not missed any races after being injured in the suspended Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 12, he earned his first victory of the year since then. Driving the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet with a surgically-repaired right clavicle and broken bone in his right hand, Newgarden dominated the Iowa Corn 300 on July 10. He led 282 of 300 laps on his way to his first oval victory and third win of his Indy car career.
Newgarden currently sits 5th in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings with 344 points, just 14 points out of 3rd. Pigot races the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet in road and street course events and joined ECR in Detroit, following the Indianapolis 500. Team owner Ed Carpenter drives the No. 20 during the oval events.
The Honda Indy 200 weekend will air live Sunday, July 31 on CNBC at 2 p.m. ET with a re-broadcast on NBCSN at 5:30 p.m.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 21 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD: “It was really exciting, actually. I was nervous in the second round. We were debating new or used reds in the second group, no one really knew it what it was going to do. It looked like it was going to rain, then it didn’t, then it kind of did! We ended up going out on scuffs and I struggled, I couldn’t really get a good lap time on them. We came in and put on new tires and it started raining in Turn 4. I thought ‘Well, we just shot ourselves in the foot!’ The next lap it dried up and I got a good time and got in the Fast 6. We did a pretty decent job and ended 3rd. I feel good about where we are starting, that’s a good spot for us. We should try and challenge the two Penske guys for the whole race. They’ll be tough to beat, they’re really, really good around here on their tires. I think that’s what it’s going to take, kind of like Barber, you have to have good longevity on your tires That’s where we got beat in Barber, so we have got to work on that tomorrow morning. If we can do that, we should have a pretty good day with the Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy.”
SPENCER PIGOT, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 19TH: “Obviously today was a tough day, we need to figure out how we can improve qualifying. We at least want stay where we have been in practice instead of losing positions. We’re going to make that the goal for qualifying in Watkins Glen. For tomorrow, we’re going to focus on the race and see what we can do with a different strategy. We have good pace and I know the Fuzzy’s Vodka Rising Star Racing guys will give me good pit stops. I’m excited to see what we can do.”