Newgarden on pole at Pocono after qualifying rained off

by Jordan Groves

2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship leader, Josef Newgarden, will start on pole position for tomorrow’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway after rain forced qualifying to be cancelled. As per the regulations, the cancellation of qualifying meant that the grid would be set by entrant points, putting Newgarden on pole with defending Pocono winner, Alexander Rossi, alongside him on the front-row of the grid.

Due to qualifying being set by the rule book, Newgarden will not receive the usual extra point for pole position. This means that he and Alexander Rossi are still separated by sixteen points heading into tomorrow’s race. The remaining two realistic championship contenders, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon, will line-up on the second row of the grid in third and fourth respectively.

As a result of the rain, the Saturday schedule at Pocono Raceway has changed. First practice, that was scheduled to take place prior to qualifying, was also cancelled. Instead, a single, two hour practice session will take place today to get the drivers dialled into the race track.

“I would have liked for us to qualify, but I think practice is a priority from a series standpoint,” Newgarden said after qualifying’s cancellation. “They’re trying to make sure we’re prepared for the race and I support that. You’d like to qualify to start first, but we’re going to take it. They’ve awarded us the first starting position based on points so it’s good to be the point leader today. It’s all positive. It helps for 500 miles tomorrow and helps for Gateway next week. It’s always good to be up front for a 500-mile race and not back in the mess.”

Team Penske‘s Will Power, who fought with Alexander Rossi for the victory at Pocono twelve months ago, will start in fifth place for tomorrow’s race, with Andretti Autosport‘s Ryan Hunter-Reay just behind in sixth place. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing duo of Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal will share the fourth row of the grid in seventh and eighth, with rookie Felix Rosenqvist and veteran James Hinchcliffe completing the top ten on the grid tomorrow.

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