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DETROIT — Josef Newgarden became the seventh different pole winner through seven IndyCar qualifying sessions this season when he put Team Penske at the front for Sunday’s final Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle.
Newgarden won the pole on the temporary street course for the third time in his career as time expired on Saturday’s qualifying session. The American started from the pole at Belle Isle a year ago and led 67 of the 70 laps in a dominating run that appeared to be headed toward Newgarden’s first win of the season.
Instead, a late caution caused a final restart and Pato O’Ward drove through the field over the final seven laps to snatch his first victory of the season; Newgarden finished second.
“I’ve been here before, we did this last year and fell short,” Newgarden said. “We’ve got to be really focused on the race and how we’re going to get to the end and finish it off.”
The race Sunday is the final Detroit Grand Prix to be run on Belle Isle; Roger Penske‘s promotion group is returning it to a downtown Detroit race, where it started in 1982, next season.
Newgarden, who won his 16th pole, is IndyCar’s only two-time winner this season. He was a disappointing 13th in last week’s Indianapolis 500.
O’Ward qualified fifth for Arrow McLaren SP and 20-year-old rookie David Malukas was sixth for Coyne.
Honda, the Indy 500 winning engine maker, had four cars in the Fast Six of Saturday’s qualifying. Chevrolet had just two representatives, but claimed the pole with Newgarden.
The four rounds of qualifying all had its share of action.
Kyle Kirkwood, fastest in Friday practice and the pole-winner for the GT class in Saturday’s IMSA sports car race, crashed in Saturday morning practice and injured his right hand. He failed to advance out of the first group and said after his taped hand “isn’t great.”
In the next group, Felix Rosenqvist was penalized for impeding Jimmie Johnson‘s qualifying run. In the round of 12, IndyCar investigated an incident between reigning champion Alex Palou and Will Power. No action was taken, and Power was initially angry that Palou had ruined his qualifying lap, but ultimately conceded neither he or Palou was advancing into the Fast Six.
But there was still a possibility of a fantastic Indy 500 rebound for Andretti Autosport, which had three of its four drivers poised to advance into the Fast Six. Romain Grosjean crashed, though, and it ruined any shot of his Andretti teammates Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi advancing.