Josef Newgarden on track at Indianapolis. (IndyCar Photo)

Newgarden Holds The Point In Indy 500 Tune-Up

INDIANAPOLIS — After a weekend of taking the car to the edge of its speed limit in qualifications, the 33-car starting lineup for the 108th Indianapolis 500 returned to the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval for full-field practice.

By the end of the two-hour session that ran from 1-3 p.m. Eastern Time, Team Penske and defending Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden was the fastest driver with a lap at 226.238 miles per hour. He completed 89 laps in the No. 2 Shell Chevrolet and is attempting to become the first driver to win back-to-back Indy 500 wins since Helio Castroneves in 2001-’02.

Click here for the full results.

“The car feels good,” Newgarden said after his run. “I’ve been happy with it since we showed up. There’s been a lot of work put into this race car all year from everybody. I’m excited to go racing. 

“It’s exciting to have Shell back on board, trying to have another solid day this Sunday coming up. The team has done a great job. We’re excited to be here, like I’ve talked about all week. I love this place. We’re going to see how things shape up.”

Newgarden starts on the outside of Row 1 – an All-Team Penske front row alongside 2018 winner Will Power in the middle and Pole winner Scott McLaughlin.

It’s the second time in Indianapolis 500 history that the same team has swept the front row for the Indy 500.

The last time was Team Penske in 1988 with Rick Mears on pole, Danny Sullivan in the middle and Al Unser on the outside.

Newgarden has a great starting position to make his bid for back-to-back Indy 500 wins and that included the next step on that journey in Monday’s practice session.

“You’ve just got to be ready for everything,” Newgarden said. “I think we’re going to make a plan, and might follow the plan, or we might change the plan. You never know with the Indianapolis 500. 

“Just be ready for Sunday. 

“I think we checked (the box) pretty early in the week. Our race car and what we showed up with is very much intact. It’s there. The car is capable of racing and doing well. That’s kind of a box of its own. There’s a lot of other things you’ve got to be able to do in the race to tackle any challenges, but I think the car is very raceable and it’s got speed. You have that box check. You can kind of make anything else work, in my opinion.” 

Colton Herta of Andretti Global was second in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda at 226.222 mph. He ran 96 laps. Power was third at 226.137 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet.

Agustin Canapino of Juncos Hollinger Racing was fourth at 225.747 mph in the No. 78 Chevrolet followed by Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 Chevrolet at 225.738 mph.

Tom Blomqvist of Meyer Shank Racing completed the most laps in the two-hour session with 106. He was 16th out of 33 on the speed list at 224.600 mph. Christian Rasmussen of Ed Carpenter Racing ran 100 laps and was sixth at 225.718 mph.

The next practice session is the final practice before Sunday’s 108th Indianapolis 500. It’s the 2-hour final practice on Carb Day on Friday.