Josef Newgarden will start second – his Verizon IndyCar Series career best qualifying effort – in the Firestone 600 on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway after turning a two-lap average of 217.835 mph in qualifying Friday.
Newgarden’s previous best qualifying effort in three seasons with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) was fourth, achieved this season at Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park and in 2012 at Auto Club Speedway.
Will Power of Team Penske will start alongside Newgarden’s No. 67 Strike/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone on the front row after earning the Verizon P1 Award with an average speed of 218.896.
“We didn’t go super conservative, but we didn’t go all the way to the edge, and the car was just really fast,” Newgarden said. “It was balanced, and the team did a great job. I’m pleased. Normally when you have a car that handles good and is quick and you thought it was too easy, it normally bodes well for the race.
“Texas is a very fun race because it’s one of the highest-banked ovals that we go to, and having the race under the lights is fun because it gives you a different perspective. Everything feels like it speeds up, and it feels a lot faster. I truly enjoy it.”
The race starts at 8 p.m. (ET) Saturday, June 7 on the high-banked, 1.5-mile oval and will be televised live on NBC Sports Network. It’s the first night race of the season.
Newgarden and the SFHR crew found speed just when they needed it. Newgarden, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, admitted the team wasn’t focused on pure velocity during practice Friday at Texas, instead focusing on a balanced race car that could deliver a strong finish Saturday.
“We literally did not trim whatsoever in practice this morning, so you saw us in full race trim,” Newgarden said. “The problem with that is we didn’t know what we had for qualifying, but our theory was if we make the car as good as possible for the race, it shouldn’t be that far off in qualifying.
“The Strike car was fast, and it was easy to drive. Those are the best days. We got a little bit of mojo on our side, and I’m hoping it’s Strike that’s bringing that to us because it’s great to have them with us.”
To keep up with the latest news and updates from SFHR, follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram and like Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing on Facebook.
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