Josef Newgarden made his first Firestone Fast 6 appearance in his IndyCar career today at the Grand Prix of Baltimore qualifications. The Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) driver will start 5th in Sunday’s 75-lap race, his highest starting position of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
The 22-year-old, who was unable to race in Baltimore in 2012 due to injury, turned a lap at 1 minute, 19.0685 seconds in Round 1 of qualifications, advancing to Round 2 for the first time in the 2013 season.
Driving the No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry, Newgarden finished with an even quicker lap (1:18.5236) in Round 2.
In the third round of qualifications, the Nashville-native turned a lap at 1 minute, 18.9022 seconds, positioning him to start on the inside of the third row for Sunday’s race.
“I’m happy we’re up here,” Newgarden said at the Firestone Fast 6 press conference. “We just want to be clean with everyone and hopefully have a good race. We’ve had some bad luck the last three events, and haven’t been able to complete them, or we’ve been six laps down just trying to stay out of everyone’s way after having an issue. Everyone’s been working really hard, we just need to have a good result and a clean race.
“I’m happy for the guys, they’ve done a really good job this weekend. We look strong for the most part in the long run. I’m excited for tomorrow and I think anything can happen around this place. As we’ve seen in IndyCar over the last few years it’s been really interesting. Hopefully I can have a clean race for all of us at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.”
The signature section of Baltimore’s 2.04-mile, 12-turn street circuit is the chicane, which forces drivers to slow down over a set of railroad tracks. Newgarden, known for flying through the tricky part of the circuit, is referred to as “the king of the chicane” by some of his fellow drivers.
“I feel like (the chicane) is the only place I’m good at around the circuit,” Newgarden said modestly. “That’s why I’m in the Firestone Fast 6 I think. I’m just barreling the car through it. I think the harder you hit it the faster you get out. I really like it though, I know some people dislike it but it’s difficult with the railroad tracks around here and you have to do something to slow the cars down.”
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon will start first on the grid in Sunday’s race, followed by Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Justin Wilson.
To watch Newgarden drive his Honda-powered car through the Streets of Baltimore for the 2013 Grand Prix of Baltimore, tune into NBC Sports Network at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 1. For the latest updates from SFHR, follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram.