Newgarden takes pole at Road America with last-minute lap

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Credit: Chris Jones / Courtesy of IndyCar

Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden has taken pole position for tomorrow’s 2018 KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America. The American put his #1 Team Penske Chevrolet on the top of the time-sheets with a fantastic lap in the dying moments of qualifying to pip his team-mate, Will Power, by just half a tenth of a second.

As the final session of qualifying drew to a close, it looked as though Andretti Autosport‘s Alexander Rossi may have done enough to take the pole with a strong lap, however a series of late improvements after the chequered flag put pay to the Californian driver’s hopes of starting Sunday’s race at the front of the order.

Last month’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Power, claimed that he had left no time on the table after the session, after pipping Rossi’s previous P1 time by two-tenths of a second. However, just a few seconds later, his team-mate Newgarden would come through and just sneak ahead on the time-sheets, just 0.0482-seconds ahead of Power with a time of 1:43.2026.

The lap would be good enough to earn Josef his second consecutive pole position and his third of the 2018 season. He will be hoping to convert his third pole of the year into his third race victory of the year in tomorrow’s race.

Alexander Rossi did have the opportunity to try and beat Newgarden’s time to re-take pole position, however, his final lap was not quite up to speed. He was not able to leapfrog the two Penske’s out front. In fact, he even lost out a position to his team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay, whose last lap of the session was good enough to secure third on the grid. Rossi would have to settle for fourth place, but he was happy with the result, stating that he was just glad to be in the Fast Six.

Rookie Robert Wickens and Dale Coyne Racing‘s Sebastien Bourdais completed the top six that made it into the final session of qualifying. The top six were separated by just half a second, which is impressively close considering that Road America is a four-mile-long circuit.

Just on the outside of the top six would be seventh-placed Takuma Sato and championship leader Scott Dixon in eighth place. Sato’s team-mate Graham Rahal qualified solidly in ninth place; a routine change from his usual poor qualifying performances as of late.

Spencer Pigot rounded out the top ten for Ed Carpenter Racing, with rookie Zach Veach putting in an impressive run so far this weekend to line-up in eleventh place. Zach stated after the session that he was very much hoping to gain positions tomorrow.

Rookie Jordan King just missed out on a spot in the second session of qualifying. He was just behind Ed Jones after putting his #20 ECR Chevrolet in thirteenth place. Simon Pagenaud will start right behind him in fourteenth place, with the Frenchman unable to replicate the pace of his two team-mates on the front-row of the grid.

It was a disappointing session for A.J. Foyt Enterprises. The team announced yesterday that they would be retaining both Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist for the 2019 season. However, neither driver could celebrate the news by qualifying well, with both failing to advance out of round one after qualifying eighteenth and twentieth respectively.

Similarly, neither Carlin driver could make it into the top twelve. Charlie Kimball will line up in nineteenth place, with Max Chilton in the penultimate spot on the grid in twenty-second.

Alfonso Celis Jr. will start his first Verizon IndyCar Series race from twenty-first on the grid in his #32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet. He may have set the slowest time of the session, but he was not too far off of the pace of those around him and he will not start from last due to the IndyCar qualifying format. Instead, last on the grid will go to Harding Racing‘s Gabby Chaves, who has been struggling for pace all weekend long.

The teams and drivers will not have their usual pre-race warmup session tomorrow and will instead have to make educated guesses as to what they need setup-wise for the race. Road America usually provides fantastic racing, so tomorrow’s 2018 KOHLER Grand Prix is not one you are going to want to miss.

Credit: Chris Jones / Courtesy of IndyCar

2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – KOHLER Grand Prix – Qualifying results:

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