After spending a hot and humid day on Iowa Speedway’s short oval, Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) will start 16th on the grid in Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250.
The IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying format in Iowa is unlike the usual two-lap average speed used at most ovals to determine starting order. Newgarden’s 182.142 mph single lap qualification earlier in the day determined his third place start in tonight’s first heat race.
The 22-year-old drove 50 lightening quick laps around the 7/8-mile tri-oval, finishing in the fifth position, which resulted in his qualifying spot of 16th for tomorrow’s 250-lap race.
“We really wanted to qualify better and hopefully run in the final heat race, Newgarden said. “That was obviously the main goal, but that’s not what happened and that’s ok. I think we have a strong car for the whole race distance tomorrow. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be hot, drivers and teams are going to struggle with set up, but you just have to grind through it.”
With only nine cars in the first heat race, Iowa fans did not witness a lot of passing. Newgarden, driving the No. 67 Go Wichita Dallara/Honda/Firestone car, stayed in 5th place for most of the short sprint race.
“It looked like everyone just filed in at the beginning and that’s what it was for the rest of the race,” Newgarden said. “During heat races you have to be strong from start to finish, and it’s very short, where as in the actual race it’s going to be a lot more laps and a lot more distances over many stints. I think having a stronger car at the end of a stint will pay off more in an actual race situation, but not in the heat races. I think for tomorrow we’ll have a good car.”
With close to 90-degree weather in the forecast for Sunday’s showdown, staying hydrated and keeping cool will be key for the sophomore driver.
“The heat is going to be tough for drivers,” Newgarden said. “It’s one of the most physical ovals we go to so it’s going to be very difficult tomorrow to stay hydrated and get everything done, but I think we will be alright.”
The No. 67 car is sponsored this weekend by Go Wichita, the convention and visitors bureau from co-owner Wink Hartman’s hometown, Wichita, Kan.
“It’s great to have Go Wichita on the car,” Newgarden said. “Wink Hartman and his wife Libba are from Wichita and it’s nice to have all the local reps and companies on the car. I think we’ll do them justice tomorrow, but it’s definitely great to have that hometown support.”
Helio Castroneves will start on pole in Sunday’s race, which will air live on ABC starting at 2:30 p.m. ET. To catch the latest trackside updates from Iowa, follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram.
Of Note: The No. 67 Go Wichita car is not the only sports team SFHR co-owner Wink Hartman is supporting this weekend. Hartman also owns the Wichita Wild, an indoor professional football team. The Wild play in the CPIFL championship bowl game tonight at Hartman Arena in Wichita, Kan.