Race Weekend Central

Despite Massive Accident, Josef Newgarden Qualifies 6th at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wisc.– Josef Newgarden was pushing hard on his final qualifying lap at Road America but a spin and large hit with the SAFER Barrier ended his chances for his 18th NTT IndyCar Series pole position ahead of Sunday’s (June 9) XPEL Grand Prix.

As the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet approached the Kink at turn 11, the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion put his left side wheels on the still-damp curb. That lack of traction caused the car to quickly spin and collide violently with the SAFER barrier that lines the wall outside of the Kink.

Newgarden was seen and released from the IndyCar medical unit.

“I’m glad I got to see the replay, what happened is what I thought had happened,” Newgarden said to NBC’s Kevin Lee. “I feel like an idiot. I just got a little bit wide. You can’t do that in these conditions, I mean look, this is IndyCar, it gets tight, you know, and I pushed it a little too far there so I apologize to my guys. That was a rocket ship car, man it was really good. I don’t know that the lap was good enough, but I think it would’ve been in the realm of something decent, so I was definitely trying to go for it like everybody and just overstepped.”

See also
Linus Lundqvist Takes 1st Career Pole at Rainy Road America

The 14-turn, 4.014-mile circuit was wet at the start of qualifying but the rain stopped shortly after the second round began. When the Firestone Fast Six started, all six drivers put on slick tires to begin the eight-minute session.

The track gradually picked up speed as the first timed lap turned in the session was timed at 1:57.2604 from Colton Herta. Herta’s fastest lap in Round 2 was nearly two seconds slower on Firestone’s wet weather tire compound.

Rookie Linus Lundqvist crossed the alternate timing line before turn 14 shortly before time expired on the session to snatch pole position. Newgarden then hit the SAFER Barrier shortly after Herta crossed the alternate timing line to set a lap time which put the Californian second on the grid.

Because of Newgarden’s accident, no other driver could set a lap time to improve their position ahead of Sunday’s 55-lap race. Also because of the incident, race control deleted Newgarden’s best two lap times of the session. Because the Tennessee native had only two laps in the third round of qualifying, Newgarden ended the session with no official time.

Newgarden will start sixth behind Lundqvist, Herta, Marcus Armstrong, Kyle Kirkwood and Will Power. Power had a spin and stalled the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet on his first timed lap. Because Power was faster in the second round of qualifying, he will start ahead of Newgarden.

Speaking to Fronstretch after what seemed like an extended time in the medical center, Newgarden applauded the medical team for their dedication.

“They’re just super thorough here, which is great” he said. “I think INDYCAR wants to make sure everybody is fine, especially after an impact like that. All good.”

Sunday’s race will air live on NBC and Peacock with the broadcast starting at 3:30 p.m. ET and the race beginning 15 minutes later.

About the author

Christopherdeharde

Christopher DeHarde has covered IndyCar racing and the Road to Indy for various outlets since 2014. In addition to open wheel racing, DeHarde has also covered IMSA and various short track racing events around Indiana. Originally from New Orleans, DeHarde moved to the Indianapolis area in 2017 to further pursue a career as a motorsports writer.

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