After a tough day on track for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR), sophomore driver Josef Newgarden will battle his way back to the top of Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama from the 22nd starting position. Newgarden turned a lap of 1 minute, 7.7830 seconds at 122.155 mph in qualifying on Saturday morning.
“It’s been a really rough day for us,” Newgarden said. “Things haven’t exactly gone our way. I had a little trouble trying to find some spacing in qualifying.”
The No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone car did not make it to the Firestone Fast 6, but Newgarden is keeping a positive attitude about Sunday’s competition.
“We’re definitely better than where we are starting tomorrow,” he said. “A top-10 qualifying is what we were looking for, and I think that’s probably where we were so it gives us something to look forward to tomorrow in the race.”
Sunday will be a fresh start, with factors such as heat and length of race taken into consideration. Newgarden believes it is important for his team to conserve and to continue fighting the small battles along the 2.38-mile, 15-turn road course.
“It’s going to be a long day and it’s going to be hotter than what we’ve seen the last couple of months,” he said. “Everyone has been focusing on short runs and trying to find their car’s optimal performance, but tomorrow is going to be all about lasting all the way through to the end.”
Newgarden’s focus has turned to getting proper rest, knowing how mentally and physically taxing the 90-lap race will be on Sunday.
“I think tomorrow we have the potential to do something big,” he said. “I think we could race to the podium to be honest, but a good top-10 solid points day is what we’re looking for.”
The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, April 7, starting at 3 p.m. ET. Follow @SFHRindy on Twitter for live trackside updates.