Josef Newgarden narrowly missed advancing to the second round of IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg today and will embark on the first race of his sophomore season with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) from the 16th starting position.
The 22-year-old’s fastest lap of 1:02.1592 through the 1.8-mile, 14-turn scenic street course on the St. Petersburg harbor ranked him eighth in his qualifying group.
Newgarden will start next to Graham Rahal in the eighth row for Sunday’s race.
“We had an okay qualifying session. It would have been great to advance,” Newgarden said. “I think we lost a little bit of time from the practice session to qualifying. This is the first race of the season and we have a lot to learn. Hopefully we can learn a few more things in the warm-up session tomorrow morning that will help us in both the race and the other street courses we’re going to later in the season.”
Newgarden earned his season-best finish in 2012 at St. Petersburg as a rookie one year ago where he finished in the 11th position after qualifying 19th overall. Now in his second season with SFHR and the IZOD IndyCar Series, Newgarden is ready to capitalize on everything he learned as a rookie.
“It feels great to be back in the car with SFHR and kicking off the season at St. Pete,” Newgarden said. “I love the atmosphere here because there are so many fans. I’m so excited to be here racing. I know my engineers are pumped up, and all the guys on the team are pumped up. It’s just good to get the year started off.”
Will Power was fastest of the day and earned the pole position and Verizon P1 Award for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with a time of 1.01.2070, followed by Takuma Sato (1:01.5776) and Simona de Silvestro (1:01.7670).
SFHR returns to the track to kick off the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season on March 24 for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 12pm ET.
Follow @SFHRindy on Twitter for real-time updates from the No. 67 car.