By rule, starting lineups for races are based on entrant points when qualifying sessions aren’t held. Rain arrived here Saturday morning.
Track drying on the 2.5-mile oval has been underway and once the process is completed there will be a two-hour practice session this afternoon. The session will be broadcast live on NBC Gold when the session goes green and also will be available on NBCSN if the practice falls within the network’s 2:30-4 p.m. ET live window.
Newgarden will be joined on the front row by Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi. They are separated by 16 points with four races to go. Newgarden will not receive the championship point that goes with winning a pole in the NTT IndyCar Series.
“I would have liked for us to qualify, but I think practice is a priority from a series standpoint,” Newgarden said. “They’re trying to make sure we’re prepared for the race and I support that. You’d like to qualify to start first, but we’re going to take it. They’ve awarded us the first starting position based on points so it’s good to be the point leader today. It’s all positive. It helps for 500 miles tomorrow and helps for Gateway next week. It’s always good to be up front for a 500-mile race and not back in the mess.”
Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, the Indianapolis 500 winner, and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, the five-time series champion, are the other two top championship contenders. They are 47 and 62 points out of the lead, respectively.