Newgarden wins pole in bid for title
Josef Newgarden led a Team Penske parade in qualifying for the IndyCar season finale with a record-setting drive that put him in control as he seeks his first series championship.
Newgarden three times broke the track record, including on his final qualifying run Saturday at Sonoma Raceway in California. He drove his Chevrolet through the 12-turn road course at 1 minute, 15.5205 seconds.
It is just the second pole of Newgarden’s career, and the one-point bonus he earned with it gives him a four-point lead over Scott Dixon heading into today’s finale.
Penske’s Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves qualified second, third and fourth. Dixon was sixth. All have a chance at the title.
Newgarden, a 26-year-old American, knows Dixon, a four-time series champion, is right there. So his mindset is simple. “If we win the race, we win the championship,” Newgarden said. “It’s an easy goal for us.”
“This track is probably not our friendliest,” said Dixon, a New Zealander who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing. “Anything is possible.”
“I think if it wasn’t Scott Dixon, I would say that our odds are really good,” said Team Penske president Tim Cindric. “Scott has been there, done that, executed really more than all of our guys combined. You don’t see him make any mistakes.”
NASCAR Xfinity: Justin Allgaier, in a Chevrolet, pulled away from Kyle Larson on the final restart and won at Chicagoland Speedway.
Allgaier, who is from nearby Riverton, led a banner day for the Earnhardt family’s JR Motorsports, as Elliott Sadler placed third and clinched the regular-season championship.
William Byron and Michael Annett give JR Motorsports four drivers in the seven-race playoff. The others are Daniel Hemric, Brennan Poole, Ryan Reed, Jeremy Clements, Cole Custer, Blake Koch, Matt Tifft and Brendan Gaughan.
NASCAR Trucks: Johnny Sauter, in a Chevrolet, won Friday night at Chicagoland and heads into the seven-race playoff trying to win his second straight series championship. Ben Rhodes took the final playoff spot in a tiebreaker over Ryan Truex. Christopher Bell finished third and won the regular-season championship. John Hunter Nemechek, Matt Crafton, Austin Cindric, Kaz Grala and Chase Briscoe also are in the playoff field.
Formula One: Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won the pole position for today’s Singapore Grand Prix and Mercedes driver Louis Hamilton qualified fifth, meaning Vettel is in good position to reclaim the series lead. Hamilton is ahead by three points. The Marina Bay circuit is one of the hardest for passing.
When asked what a realistic result would be, Hamilton sounded deflated. “Your guess is as good as mine,” he said. “I’ve just got to try and keep the pressure on without cooking my car.”
Josef Newgarden (left) has a chance to be the first American champion in IndyCar since Ryan HunterReay in 2012.