Josef Newgarden, driver of the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet, posted the second-quickest time during final practice on Friday to pace Team Chevy drivers heading into this weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader weekend. Newgarden, the 2017 NTT IndyCar Series champion, got around the 2.3-mile street course on Belle Isle in 1:15.6641 (111.810 mph). Simon Pagenaud, driver of the No. 22 DXC Technology Chevrolet and winner of the Indianapolis 500 last week, arrived in Detroit with the series points lead. He was ninth-quickest (1:16.2923/110.889 mph) in the final practice.
“Detroit is a lot more physical, but you have to be sharp with your mind because you are running so close to the wall,” said Pagenaud. “You have to be on top of your game. But a different on-top of your game than Indy. At Indy it is all flowing speed. The track can slow down everything. Here it is just the opposite. You really have to be up on the wheel. I think we did a really good job today. “ Pagenaud has one win and four podiums in 13 career starts at Belle Isle. He also swept the poles in 2016. Newgarden, who is just one point behind his Team Penske teammate in the standings, has three top-five finishes in his last five starts in Detroit. Nine drivers powered by Chevrolet’s 2.2-liter direct-injected, twin-turbocharged V6 engine are entered in the dual races run against the backdrop of Chevrolet’s world headquarters. Qualifying for Dual in Detroit 1 is at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday. The race starts at 3:50 p.m. Qualifying and the Dual 2 race are on Sunday.
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER QUOTES:
Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet: “I think we had a decent start today, not 100 percent sure where we stack up. I think we’re a little bit further back than where we were on that final red tire run. Some of the Andretti boys look really good. Some of the Ganassi guys look really good. We’ll see.
“I think we’re in that top-five mix. In the pecking order we’re probably more
Matheus Leist, No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet: “We started the morning with a car I didn’t like and we didn’t do good lap times in the morning, so we decided to go towards Tony’s car for the afternoon which helped a little bit but it’s still not where we want to be. The ABC Supply Chevy has room for improvement for tomorrow. We’ll regroup tonight and see what we can do for a good qualifying tomorrow.”
Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet: “It was a pretty good day actually. I feel like the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet is in the window that we need. We’ve really struggled here the last couple of years, so I think we’ve come back with a better car for sure. It’s going to be an interesting race, with the way the tires degrade. I think there will be a number of different strategies. There is a chance of rain tomorrow, which always mixes things up, so we will just have to see.”
Tony Kanaan, No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet: “It was a productive day. We’re trying a couple different set ups to understand what we need for tomorrow.”
Ed Jones, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet: : “It wasn’t the best start to the day, but we made some positive changes to the car for the afternoon session. We made a lot of progress with those and even during the session made some more gains. If we can do the same for tomorrow morning, heading into qualifying, I think we’ll be in a really good place.”
Spencer Pigot, No. 21 Autogeek Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet: “Overall, I think we had a pretty good day. The Autogeek Chevy seems to be in a pretty good spot. We made some changes throughout the day and made some good improvements, which is always encouraging. Hopefully we can find a little bit more overnight and give it our best for qualifying.”
Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet: ““Detroit is a lot more physical, but you have to be sharp with your mind because you are running so close to the wall. You have to be on top of your game. But a different on-top of your game than Indy. At Indy it is all flowing speed. The track can slow down everything. Here it is just the opposite. You really have to be up on the wheel. I think we did a really good job today. I’m very happy with the DXC Technology Chevy. I think we have really good pace. It’s going to be hard this weekend for several reasons. We have a car that can be in the top five easily. We just have to extract the best out of the car and ourselves. “Here, starting in front is better. There is always a lot of action mid-pack. Starting in the three rows allows you to strategize. That would be nice for sure. Top-five is what we are shooting for. Its very tight, I think we are in good shape. There is going to be a lot of tire degradation in the race. It is going to be interesting. I think we can expect some surprises.”
Patricio O’Ward, No.31 Carlin Chevrolet: “Unfortunately we didn’t learn much when we put the reds on in this afternoon’s practice because of a problem with the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet. We have quite a bit of data from the black tires that we can use, but we’re just a little bit behind and going in a little bit blindsided to qualifying with the reds. We’re going to work with what we have and look at exactly how we can use it to give it our best shot tomorrow in qualifying. I’m confident in the team and know they’ll work hard tonight to make sure we’re in the best possible spot for qualifying and the race tomorrow.”
Max Chilton, No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet: “It was a typical Detroit day – lots to pack in with a limited amount of on-track time. Every session around here is critical, because you don’t get as much time out there and there are usually quite a bit of yellows. We’re now going into qualifying tomorrow, but we unfortunately didn’t get a time with the reds because of the red flag. We chose to do it in the warm-up, but lots of others seemed to have the same idea so we had a bit of traffic. Our pace seems to be okay. It’s not where we want it to be at the moment, but I think we haven’t really gotten a fair representation because we didn’t do a red run with clean air. We’ll see where we end up in qualifying, but I’m pretty confident with our race pace.”
NTT IndyCar Series News ConferenceFriday May 31, 2019Press ConferenceJosef NewgardenTeam Penske Chevrolet
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Team Penske Chevrolet driver Josef Newgarden, second in today’s practice sessions.Josef, coming off the Indy 500, how is getting back into the rhythm here?JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, it’s been OK. I mean, I think we’re all trying in a way to stay on the island this weekend. I think everyone is pretty worn out, all the mechanics, engineers, a lot of the drivers are. It’s a big month for everybody.A little worn out, but pretty good. Nice to be back in a regular weekend that’s a little bit more low-key, which is nice. I think we had a decent start today, not 100 percent sure where we stack up. I think we’re a little bit further back than where we were on that final red tire run. Some of the Andretti boys look really good. Some of the Ganassi guys look really good. We’ll see.I think we’re in that top-five mix. In the pecking order we’re probably more towards the back of the top five. A little bit of work to do. So far not too terrible.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up to questions.
Q. New right side reds here. Do you think there will be a little bit less degradation?JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think it will be twice as bad is what I’ve noticed. I’ll be surprised if people make half a stint on reds. It’s just what I saw.But it’s Friday. Maybe Saturday it will be different. They didn’t seem great for longevity. Yeah, it will be interesting. They definitely feel like they have grip, but they’re not conducive to long running, it doesn’t seem.
Q. The tires, might rain tomorrow, supposed to be clean on Sunday. Are you guys to go to be practicing on different sets to get a feel for it?JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think practice is over. I don’t think we have much time. We go straight to qualifying, so…But we’ll see. It was supposed to rain the entire day for the Indy 500 and we didn’t see a drop. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.We’ll be prepared. It’s normal to mix it up. You got to run both compounds in the race. You have to be kind of good on both tires. But it’s going to be interesting. I think there’s a curve ball with the reds this year. We’ll see how it shakes out.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don’t have a big problem with qualifying here. More like junior car qualifying, to be honest. Go out for one session, it’s one session. Same when it’s a three-round system, you got to be quick each round. You only have one round this time for the weekend, but it’s not really a big deal.
Q. I know you guys have done this a lot, but coming off of Indianapolis 500 oval, speed, everything different, does it take you a few minutes to reacclimate to what you’re trying to accomplish?ALEXANDER ROSSI: I think the biggest thing is mentally getting back to explaining things for me. I’m actually struggling right now. You’re so used to kind of a very specific way of thinking, a thought process, right? It’s around the oval and the speedway.You come here, it’s like getting back on the bike from the muscle memory. Going fast isn’t that big of a deal. When the engineers are talking to you, ‘What’s it doing?’ You’re trying to get out of the mindset of the oval car in a way. That for me is the biggest thing today. I feel stupid with words.
Q. Either of you go back and review the Indy 500 yet?JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I watched the last 12 laps, then I shut it off. I knew what happened.JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think most of us go back and watch. You want see it back, what happened. I didn’t understand the Sato deal till I watched it back. Where the hell did he come from? Does anyone know what happened there? The yellow came out when he pitted. He made probably like 10 positions. I was really confused until I saw it. Yeah, you want to learn stuff like that.
Q. Do you like this race here in Detroit?JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I like it here, I do. I like this track a lot. I think the tricky bit for us is turning the tires on. It’s so difficult here with the concrete surface to make the tires work and get them in a good operating window. I think it’s tough for everybody, but it seems like some cars do a better job of it. I think that’s hurt under the circumstances here in the past.I like the track a lot. It’s a very fun track, very challenging, very technical and physical. It’s quite a shock coming from Indy, the physicality. I enjoy it a lot. It’s a really good track, really unique for a street circuit the way it flows, got a little bit of everything, high speed, low speed, switchbacks, tight corners. It’s a fun track to try to get right.
Q. Has the track changed from last year? Same amount of bumpiness? Because it’s a doubleheader, you still only get four sets of the red tires. Some drivers have done two stints. From what I’m hearing, you’re not that fond of the tires. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, likely there are going to be cautions, come in, pit, get off the reds. What would be your preference in terms of running the reds and the blacks?JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I mean, four sets is probably too many this weekend of those tires (laughter).I don’t know. We’re going to see. This is Friday. Things change. I would be shocked if it changed dramatically. But I think you’ll see a pretty black race. I think it will be mostly black tires all the way through.
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