By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
INDIANAPOLIS – Josef Newgarden missed out on sitting on pole for the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil by 0.04s in the final seconds of Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout.
The 25-year-old went out fourth put down the fastest single lap on the afternoon at 231.551 mph on the opening of his four circuits around the 2.5-mile oval. With an energetic roar from the crowd, Newgarden came across with a four lap average of 230.700 mph and jumped to the top of the scoring pylon.
Looking on with anticipation, Newgarden withstood threats from Will Power and 2014 Indy 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay before the final contender, James Hinchcliffe, went out.
The phenomenal effort by Newgarden almost put Ed Carpenter Racing on pole for the third time in four years. Team owner Ed Carpenter sat on pole in back-to-back years in 2013 and ’14.
As painful as it was to lose the pole, Newgarden knows the real prize lies ahead on May 29, 2016.
“It was a tough pill to swallow,” Newgarden said. “I try to remind myself it’s not just about today’s battle, it’s about the war, and we’ve got to try and get that done next week in the 500. But it was still a lot of fun, just to be up there and have this opportunity to compete. I was really hopeful. I thought we had enough there.
“I was really worried about those last couple of guys, but James did an awesome job, and the entire team at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. I’m really happy for them. They’ve really worked hard. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’ll try to come back and win the 500.”
If he had his way, the Tennessee native would have preferred to go out later in the session as opposed to earlier, but doesn’t really think today it made all that much difference.
“It’s always nice to go later,” Newgarden continued. “You know what you’ve got to beat, and definitely, the track gets a little better, but I don’t think that was the deciding factor today. It was all pretty close at the end. We all had a good opportunity to try to put up a big number.
“It fell the way it fell. I hope it falls our way for the race.”
Image: David Yowe/INDYCAR