Newgarden Earns Texas Pole

Josef Newgarden crosses start-finish at Texas
Josef Newgarden became the second repeat pole winner in 2018 with his qualifying effort at Texas Motor Speedway. | Photo: Chris Jones / INDYCAR

High temperatures meant limited grip in single-car qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway with Josef Newgarden coming out on top for Team Penske to earn his second Verizon IndyCar Series pole of the season.

Lined up in order based on entrant points, Newgarden was the 18th out of 22 drivers to qualify. With his second lap at 220.782 mph quicker than his first, Newgarden averaged 220.613 mph to take over the top spot and displace teammate Simon Pagenaud.

The effort marked Newgarden’s fourth career pole and his first on a superspeedway. His previous pole this year was at Barber Motorsports Park.

Pagenaud’s 220.311 mph average speed held on for second, earning the French driver his third front-row start of the year, all on ovals. The qualifying performance also matches his best start at Texas. His previous start from the second position was in 2015.

As the points leader, Will Power qualified last and averaged 220.194 mph, giving Penske a lockout of the top three starting positions.

Robert Wickens out of Texas Turn 2
In his first time qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway, Robert Wickens was Honda’s fastest driver. | Photo: Chris Owens / INDYCAR

Rookie Robert Wickens averaged 219.561 mph in his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports machine, representing the best effort by a Honda and placing him fourth on the grid.

Sebastien Bourdais and Tony Kanaan will share the third row ahead of Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi in Row 4. As second and third in points, Dixon and Rossi were the 20th and 21st to qualify, respectively.

Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ed Carpenter dealt with an unruly race car, averaging 218.057 mph to land the series’ only owner-driver on the outside of Row 7.

Saturday’s race under the lights will be preceded by a final practice on the high-banked oval. The hourlong session will begin at 6:15 p.m. CDT Friday with livestreaming available on IndyCar’s YouTube channel.

What do you think?