Josef Newgarden will start 16th on the grid in Pocono Raceway’s first IZOD IndyCar Series race in over two decades.
On a hot and humid afternoon in Long Pond, Penn., the 22-year-old driver turned a two-lap qualifying average speed of 217.832 mph.
“We’ve had a long time around here now,” Newgarden reflected. “Two and a half days to test and qualify. It’s a challenging circuit and you need that time for sure.”
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) spent Independence Day at the 2.5-mile tri-oval, gaining knowledge and building strategy.
“Over the span of all this time we’ve gone through a whole sweep of changes and that’s really worked well for us. We’ve had a lot of great support from Honda and work research. Everyone on the team is working hard and doing a great job.”
Pocono’s track, also known as the “tricky triangle”, is indeed challenging according to the driver of the No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone car.
“Pocono is definitely a tricky one,” he said. “I think we’ve laid a good foundation and we understand what we want in the race. We just have to keep a cool head and I think we can definitely come out of here with a good result.”
Though hard to predict Sunday’s outcome, a three-wide start for the 400- mile race could pose a similar feeling to the Indianapolis 500.
“I think it’ll be difficult to pass, though it will be easier than some places,” Newgarden said. “Hopefully you’ll see something similar to Indianapolis, but maybe a little bit easier. It should be a nice compromise of racing but something that’s still challenging.”
The green flag for the Pocono INDYCAR 400 will drop at 12:15 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 7. Live coverage will begin on ABC at 12 p.m. ET. For all of the latest updates from SFHR, follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram.