New­gar­den wins pole in bid for ti­tle

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - SPORTS -

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.”

GETTY IM­AGES

Josef New­gar­den (left) has a chance to be the first Amer­i­can cham­pion in IndyCar since Ryan Hun­terReay in 2012.

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