INDIANAPOLIS- It was a bold move, but the only way Josef Newgarden was going to get a chance to bump his way into the Firestone Fast Nine on Saturday afternoon was to withdraw his previous time.
The 23-year old, was sitting on the outside looking in during the waning minutes of today’s day one of time trials for the Indianapolis 500. It was either wait it out in the outside line and not withdraw their time, or start over and chance not even being able to post a time on Saturday.
For those that don’t know the new rules, a driver that qualifies today gets points. You get 33 for the pole down to one point for 33rd. If you don’t make an “official” attempt you get zero points. Then, the guys that are in the fast nine get more points tomorrow while no one else does when they requalify.
Also, by withdrawing your time, you move to the left “express lane” and skip everyone else. Only issue was, several cars were lined up in the faster lane and withdrawing your time doesn’t necessarily guarantee a qualifying run as time was running out.
They did it anyways and was a risk they were willing to take.
It ended up working as five minutes left in the unseasonably cool afternoon at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Newgarden got his chance.
He ended up being fast enough in his No. 67 Sarah Fisher/Hartman Racing Honda as he was eighth at the end of the day with a four-lap average of 230.033 mph. That payed off in more ways than one as he gets a shot at the pole on Sunday afternoon and also 26 valuable points that goes towards his championship bid as well.
Newgarden, is now tied for eighth in the standings entering tomorrow’s final day as he is guaranteed to get more points on Sunday. He will move up to seventh in the points entering the Indy 500 next weekend as he’s tied with Ryan Briscoe but the Aussie didn’t make the session. Being 10 points behind Justin Wilson for sixth right now means he won’t be able to move past him but he can close that gap.
Getting as many points as possible for Newgarden this month is key and he’s well on his way. Today, was a jubilient day for the SFHR team as they can play the same underdog role as Ed Carpenter last year and put his car on the pole for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
The slipper is in the garage for SHFR. Will it fit tomorrow?
Eric Smith is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report covering Racing. He’s covered both IndyCar and NASCAR action since 2009 and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by both the IndyCar Series and all three divisions of NASCAR racing.
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