Josef Newgarden knows his job driving an IndyCar for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) is never easy, but he found himself behind the eight ball during qualifications for the Honda Indy Toronto after missing the first two Honda Indy Toronto practice sessions due to fuel pressure issues.
Newgarden qualified 22nd in his No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone car after being able to participate in only one of three practice sessions before qualifying. His issues were compounded by hot, sticky conditions that contrasted greatly with his lone practice session that was drizzled with rain.
“Missing practice yesterday hurt us a little more than I thought it would because we hardly got any dry laps in the practice session this morning,” Newgarden said.
According to Newgarden, his abbreviated practice time put a spotlight on how strong his competitors are.
“There’s just so much talent in this field that you can’t let the other drivers get two practice sessions up on you during a weekend,” he said. “You can’t just turn a handful of laps and expect to blow everybody else’s doors off.”
Newgarden doesn’t believe the No. 67 car’s qualifying lap of 104.951 mph will hinder his chances of advancing in Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto race.
“We were only three tenths of a second away from transferring out of our first qualifying session, so it’s not like we’re miles off,” he said. “And there’s nothing wrong with the car, we just needed more track time.”
The SFHR team will battle from the back of the pack in Sunday’s race, but Newgarden is up for the challenge.
SFHR made an unapproved engine change in the No. 67 car, and will incur a 10-spot starting grid penalty for the race.
Dario Franchitti won the pole for the Honda Indy Toronto, making it his third consecutive pole in IZOD IndyCar Series competition. Will Power, Justin Wilson, Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon round out the top five starting positions.
The Honda Indy Toronto will be broadcast live Sunday, July 8 on ABC at 12:30 p.m. ET.