Newgarden leads Penske lock-out in Texas qualifying

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Credit: Chris Jones / Courtesy of IndyCar

Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, Josef Newgarden, will start on pole position for tomorrow’s 2018 DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. The American led a 1-2-3 for Team Penske, with his team-mates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power qualifying just behind him in second and third place respectively.

The three Penske drivers laid low in the practice session held earlier in the day, refusing to show their true pace. When qualifying began, however, the team showed their hand. The qualifying format in Texas is slightly different from usual. The drivers must complete two consecutive laps in a qualifying run, with their speed being averaged out over the two laps.

After the session time elapsed, it was the trio of Team Penske drivers who were sat at the top of the time-sheets. It was a dominating performance by the Chevrolet-powered team, with their drivers being the only three in the field to break the 220-mph barrier.

It was Newgarden who led the charge, with the American being the only driver in the field to complete his run in under forty-seven seconds. His total time of 46.9964-seconds was just under a tenth clear of Simon Pagenaud’s run for the second place on the grid, with third-placed Will Power also within a tenth of Newgarden’s pole time.

It is Newgarden’s second pole position of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series. He will be hoping that tomorrow night’s race will be his third win of the season, having previously won at ISM Raceway and Barber Motorsports Park. The win would also put him back up toward the top of the championship after a lacklustre last four races over the last month.

Similarly, Josef’s team-mates, Pagenaud and Power, will be hoping to win too. For Pagenaud, it would be his second-ever win on an oval. For Power, it would be a second-straight oval victory after having won the Indianapolis 500 two weeks ago.

The best of the rest behind the Penske’s was fourth-placed Robert Wickens. Once again, the rookie proved that no challenge was too much for him, as a spot on the second row of the grid is a mighty fine effort for his first race at Texas Motor Speedway. He surprised everyone with his pace on the ovals back in Phoenix in April. He’ll be hoping to impress again tomorrow night.

Sebastien Bourdais and Tony Kanaan will share the third row of the grid after qualifying in fifth and sixth respectively, with title contenders Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi on the fourth row in seventh and eighth. Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay will complete the top ten on the grid, with Marco Andretti just outside the top ten in eleventh place.

Carlin narrowly missed out on bagging their first top ten grid spot for an oval race. Charlie Kimball, last year’s pole-sitter for this event, took his #23 Chevrolet to twelfth on the grid. It was a much more dire situation for his team-mate, Max Chilton, however. The British driver will start last, with his two-lap total almost a second and a half slower than Newgarden’s pole run.

After showing speed in practice one, Gabby Chaves was unable to secure a top ten grid spot for Harding Racing. He will start seventeenth on the grid tomorrow and will be hoping for a race similar to last year, where he kept out of trouble to take a superb fifth place finish.

Prior to qualifying, it was announced that Graham Rahal had signed a multi-year contract extension with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He may have been hoping for a better grid spot to celebrate the news, but he could only manage nineteenth-place. This means he will, once again, be hoping to come through the field to take a good result home. He has had experience of winning in Texas, however, having previously won this race back in 2015.

The teams and drivers will be back out on the track later tonight for final practice, which will be run in the same conditions that tomorrow’s race will be run in. The DXC Technology 600 will take place tomorrow evening under the floodlights.

Credit: Chris Jones / Courtesy of IndyCar

2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – DXC Technology 600 – Qualifying results:

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