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“It’s not over yet,” says Newgarden after qualifying calamity

Team Penske-Chevrolet’s two-time champion Josef Newgarden says “we’re going to make the most of it” after a spin consigned him to the last row for the IndyCar season finale.

Watch: Laguna Seca IndyCar: Power takes 68th pole, title rivals struggle

Newgarden and Scott Dixon arrived at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with a 20-point deficit to championship leader Will Power. However, while setting a banker lap in Q1, Newgarden’s left front wheel struck the triangular device that IndyCar have installed on the left curb at the top of the Corkscrew to stop drivers shortcutting it or transgressing track limits.

The impact bounced the #2 Penske out of control at a point where the car is already light and it spun around into the gravel on the right-side of the track.

Newgarden commented: “Yeah, obviously it's not over yet, but it was an unfortunate session for us. Tough to make a mistake like that… It's been a long time since we've had one of those in qualifying, but it's happened now, and obviously didn't put us in a good position for tomorrow.

“But we're going to make the most of it, like we always do, on the #2 car.”

The 2017 and ’19 champion explained: “It's just a mistake. I turned in too early and I hit the curb. As soon as I hit the curb, I was all out of sorts. You can hit that second one in the bottom, but if you touch the first one it's going to send the car in a mess.

“Kind of a simple error and a very sad error, so you know, we were done pretty early today.”

But he remained resolute that strategy flips caused by cautions can still come into play in the 95 laps around the 2.238-mile course in Monterey, CA.

“I've had it happen more times than not this year where starting up front didn't work out, at least not perfectly as you'd plan it,” he said. “I would welcome it working from the back, for whatever reason.

“If something mysteriously happens and it's like, wow, you actually wanted to start in the back? I would be very appreciative to have the other end of this argument!

“I mean, I've seen it: There's so many races I've been in this year where I was like, ‘Should we have just started in the back?’ We'll see if that's the right thing for tomorrow.

Teammate Power, meanwhile, went on to claim his 68th IndyCar pole, edging his points lead to 21.

Penske’s IndyCar sophomore Scott McLaughlin ended up eighth and was reasonably upbeat, despite only just missing out on Firestone Fast Six when he skimmed the curb and sand at Turn 4 during Q2.

“I think from where I was, especially this morning, my car just really wasn't that good, and we made some big changes before qualifying, and it was really good… I feel like maybe if I had just done the lap, I could have been in the Fast Six. I feel like I was definitely fast enough.

“But yeah, I feel like we've done the right thing with certain tires and strategy-wise for that sort of stuff. Hopefully puts us in good stead for tomorrow. Eighth is not at all too bad. I'm excited to start from there and see what we've got.”

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