LONG BEACH, Calif., April 14, 2012 – Rookie Josef Newgarden sailed through Saturday’s qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to qualify seventh with a lap of 1 minute, 9.0697 seconds at 102.575 mph.
However, Newgarden’s Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone car will actually start second in Sunday’s race because all 11 IZOD IndyCar Series cars powered by Chevrolet engines incurred a 10-spot grid penalty after unapproved engine changes. Newgarden will move up to the front row alongside Dario Franchitti.
“We wanted to qualify up front outright, but we have a good spot to start from tomorrow,” Newgarden said. “The car was just unbelievable.”
For the first time in his IZOD IndyCar series career, Newgarden advanced out of the first round of knockout style qualifying with the fastest speed of his group of thirteen drivers. He went on to miss advancing to the Firestone Fast Six by one position.
“I’m bummed we didn’t make it to the Firestone Fast Six because I think we had a little more speed to pull out of the car,” Newgarden said.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing has made a steady improvement in qualifying for the first three races of the 2012 Izod IndyCar Series season.
“The coolest thing for the team is that each time we’ve qualified, we’ve ended up higher than the previous race,” Newgarden said. “We haven’t gone backwards yet.”
Ryan Briscoe qualified on pole position with a lap speed of 1 minute, 08.6089 seconds. Briscoe will move back to the 11th starting position after being penalized for his Chevrolet engine’s unapproved change. Dario Franchitti will start from pole position.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will air live on the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, April 15.