MADISON, Ill. (AP) — Josef Newgarden won the pole for Saturday night's IndyCar race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
It was the second pole in succession for the series points leader, his third of the season and the eighth of his career. Newgarden sat on the pole last week at Pocono by points after qualifying was rained out. Newgarden won the pole at the second race at Belle Isle in Detroit earlier this season.
Going out last of 22 cars, Newgarden had a two-lap average speed of 186.508 mph on Friday over the 1.25-mile oval. He beat out Sebastien Bourdais, whose two-lap average was 185.927 mph.
"When you roll off with a car that's fast, you feel comfy," Newgarden said. "It gives you a lot of confidence. We came with a different philosophy (than last year) and it was perfect. It was right on.
"It's hard to do that. You try to make that happen every weekend. It happens once or twice a year."
Bourdais is hoping to use his speed to complete the entire race. Last year, he wrecked in Turn 2 on the first lap of the night and was finished.
"Massive commitment by the team," he said. "We unloaded quick. We were hoping and it worked out for us."
NEWGARDEN ON THE MOUND
Newgarden threw the ceremonial first pitch at the Colorado Rockies-St. Louis Cardinals game Thursday night at Busch Stadium.
He threw a strike, but he had one question that nearly everyone asks.
"Why don't they let you warm up?" Newgarden said. "You get to do this way cool thing, but you've got to wing it from the start. But it was great. We had a really fun time.
"We got to stay for most of the game. It was an interesting game. A guy ran onto the field. There was a fight. A couple of home runs. It was a really good night for baseball."
The Cardinals won 6-5.
STANLEY CUP VISIT
St. Louis Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko will bring the Stanley Cup to the race on Saturday. The Cup will be set up on a stage in the midway.
The Blues won the Cup for the first time in franchise history in June, beating the Boston Bruins in seven games.
Parayko will serve as the grand marshal for Saturday night's race. He was in the pits for Graham Rahal during Friday's practice. The two met in 2013 and have been friends ever since.
"He's a modest guy," Rahal said of Parayko. "We keep in touch a couple of times a week."
Parayko got a chance to ride in the IndyCar two-seater last year.
"Speed is the biggest thing for this series and I have a new appreciation for it," he said.
THREE TO GO
Simon Pagenaud (2016), Newgarden (2017) and Scott Dixon (2018) have all held on to win the series championship after leading in points with three races remaining.
Newgarden is the points leader this season with three races left. Alexander Rossi has been second the last two seasons.
The series' next stop will be the road course at Portland (Oregon) International Raceway on Sept. 1 for the Grand Prix of Portland. Takuma Sato is the defending champion.
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