When the sun peaked through the clouds of rainy Sao Paulo today, rookie Josef Newgarden made a splash during qualifying for the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 when he qualified ninth with a lap of 1 minute, 21.8128 seconds at 111.591 mph.
“Times were really close. I think we had a great run in our Honda-powered car, and we were right there with the other guys,” Newgarden said. “We missed it by a little bit, but I don’t think we’re too far off the mark.”
In the second morning practice session before qualifications, Newgarden spun and had slight contact with a tire wall when he was practicing different braking points and locked up his right front tire. After some quick work by the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Team, the No. 67 car was ready to rebound for qualifications where Newgarden capitalized on what he learned about braking zones in Sao Paulo.
“People looked at me a little funny when I said this course reminded me of Monza but I think it’s similar with how the long straights work and the big braking zones,” Newgarden said.
Weather forecasts for race day in the Streets of Sao Paulo call for more rain, and Newgarden plans to focus on keeping the nose of the No. 67 car out of trouble.
“The race is going to be difficult with the rain we might get, but rain or shine we have to get a set-up that’s going to work throughout the entire race,” Newgarden said. “We’ve got to make it to the end and get a good finish tomorrow.”
Team Penske’s Will Power continued his dominance in IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying this season. His lap of 1:21.4045 seconds at 112.151 mph bettered rival Dario Franchitti’s lap of 1:21.4485 seconds at 112.090 mph, a difference of just .040.
Starting next to Dixon in Row 2 will be Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe with a lap of 1:21.9956 seconds at 111.343 mph. The Canadian is the only driver to make all four Firestone Fast Six qualifying sessions in 2012.
Rounding out the top five on the starting grid will be Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay at 1:22.2408 seconds at 111.011 mph.
The 75-lap Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle will air live on NBC Sports Network Sunday, April 29 at 11 a.m. ET.