Josef Newgarden “crazy proud” of his team after first IndyCar pole of the season

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | James Black
Spread the love

Josef Newgarden grabbed pole position after a scintillating qualifying session, where he beat Felix Rosenqvist by just 0.0058 seconds. Before the season one of his goals was to get more pole positions, and in the dying seconds of the Fast 6 he added the pole position to his tally. He is therefore really proud of his team.

Crazy proud. I’m always proud of my team and even more so today. They deserve it. They’ve done a great job all off season. They’ve done a great job in 2023, and I feel like we fell short in a lot of areas that we didn’t need to.

“I don’t want to get too excited about this. We should enjoy it. It felt very good. I can’t tell you how good it felt, but it’s only day one. We have to get through tomorrow. Tomorrow is what pays the bills and gets us up the road in the championship.

So let’s see how we continue the weekend, but just to start out I couldn’t have asked for something better. The team is just on it. Team Chevy absolutely crushed it in this offseason, so I couldn’t feel more positive.

First practice wasn’t too good for Newgarden, who admitted they were experimenting a bit on the setup

“Obviously we had that experimental first session, which I think is great. We all agreed that we wanted to try something. I’m not going to say it’s going to stick, but we were trying something.

We were in the earlier part of the group. I think what I took from that it was undeniable how quick Felix was. He was like a stand-out.

“Everybody else was maybe a little bit jumbled up just because of timing and traffic and reds. So I think you got more of a true indicator where the majority of the field was in session two. Obviously there was carry-over from session one.”

Setup-wise the #2 PPG-crew didn’t change too much from practice to qualifying, and neither did they inbetween the qualifying sessions.

“We didn’t do a lot. I’m telling you all this because we didn’t make a lot of changes from practice one to practice two. We were sort of same car. Just really putting it together better, and I think P2 was representative more so for where we were as a team.

“No, nothing big [during qualifying]. Really tiny stuff, which is always fun when it’s that way.”

The Penske-driver was really enthousiastic when coming out of his car, lauding the competitiveness of the championship, something he later elaborated on.

“Absolutely. I mean, we get the question every offseason. Who is your main threat? You can’t answer that clearly ever in INDYCAR. You just don’t know who is going to sort of rise to the occasion and improve.

“I think Felix is a great example of this. I’ve always thought the world of Felix. He’s a top-level driver. He’s one of the best drivers in the world.

“You get a little different environment. 12 months makes a big difference. Just things change all the time. This is the most difficult series in the world I think to put it all together, so you get people coming up and down the grid all the time. I just don’t think you can bank on any one individual being the class of the field.

“You have to beat everybody, and it’s moving all the time. The challenge always is changing. I applaud everybody that’s in this championship and is continuing to find pace.”

The alternative tyre, marked by a green wall rather than the traditional red one, is of a different durability than last year, providing some challenges on the race strategy for tomorrow. The Penske-driver thinks it will be different than previous years, when nobody wanted to drive on them.

“Yeah, it is going to be interesting. I don’t know that anyone has a great read yet. It’s impossible to know right now. We’re sort of getting an idea through qualifying. You’re starting to guess.

“I think they are more durable than last year, no doubt. Just to what level. I don’t know how much more durable they are. That’s everybody’s guessing game right now, but I do think they will come into play more so than what they did last year.

“Last year no one wanted to be on them very long, and I think this year it’s opened back up again where there could be some split strategies.”