Simon Pagenaud on Pole at Iowa

Simon Pagenaud’s wave of momentum continued on Friday at Iowa Speedway. The Frenchman followed up last weekend’s pole and race win on the streets of Toronto with another Verizon P1 Award on the popular 7/8 mile oval. Pagenaud had a 180.073 mph average speed, leading a Team Penske sweep of the top three qualifying positions. Will Power earned the pole position here last year, and will start alongside Simon on the front row.

While momentum is on Pagenaud’s side, history is not. There have been 12 IndyCar races run at Iowa, but the race has never been won from pole position. Power and Scott Dixon are both series champions and Indianapolis 500 winners. They have a combined 22 starts, 7 poles, 9 Top Five finishes, and have led a total of 206 laps at Iowa. Neither driver has won this race though. Dixon will start 8th tomorrow night in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Qualification Results for the Iowa 300

Josef Newgarden and Takuma Sato will start from Row 2 on Saturday. Newgarden has led 623 laps in the last four races at Iowa, finishing 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 6th, and 4th in his last five starts here. Defending race winner James Hinchcliffe and Alexander Rossi both qualified well on Friday. The podcast duo will share Row 3 tomorrow night.

Graham Rahal starts 7th, with Ryan Hunter-Reay lining up behind him in 9th. Taking out his two mechanical DNF finishes, Hunter-Reay’s last five finishes at Iowa are 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, and 3rd. Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top ten qualifiers on Friday. Several familiar faces are back in action this weekend at Iowa. Carlin Racing has both Conor Daly and Sage Karam in the fold, while Ed Carpenter is back in the car for the first time since Texas.

Pagenaud earned a bonus point for today’s pole. He is now 38 points behind teammate Newgarden in the championship standings. It is his third pole of the season, and his second at Iowa. Penske’s only victory at this track came in 2017 with Helio Castroneves. Track conditions are going to be very difficult for the drivers to navigate. The surface is bumpy, and it is going to be extremely hot when the green flag waves. The sun will also be directly in the eyes of the drivers for a good portion of the race. The G-forces alone are enough to wear out the drivers over the course of 300 laps.

The race distance is 300 laps, which is 268.2 miles around the 7/8 mile oval. Power won the pole for last year’s race, and Hinchcliffe is the defending race winner.

Coverage for the Iowa 300 begins at 7 PM ET on NBC Sports Network.

Photos courtesy of IndyCar

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Driver Quotes

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “Yeah, just not enough today, so we will go tomorrow. I think it will be fine, it just wasn’t enough there. The Hitachi car, it feels good. Chevy, I think, has done a great job for us, so now we will work on the race.”

MATHEUS LEIST: “Tough qualifying here at Iowa, to be honest. I thought we were going to be a little bit better, but it is what it is. The track was really dirty on the outside and I’ve been running the outside all practice long. I never tried the inside, and on my warmup lap, I had a moment because the track was so slippery, so I had to change the line and try the inside. Everybody has to adapt, but I don’t know, didn’t quite do a great job today. Just looking forward to the race now.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “A good run for No. 5 Arrow car. These track conditions are so tough right now with the temperatures the way they are, the wind the way it is. I have to thank (teammate) Marcus (Ericsson) for giving me good advice from his run. We’re starting better than we did last year and we won from 11th last year. The race car was really good in practice, so thanks to the Arrow SPM boys for giving us a strong car. We’ll see where we can go from here.”

MARCUS ERICSSON: “I think that was a decent qualifying. Obviously, top 10 is a good result. I’m still learning a lot on the ovals and this is a very different type of oval compared to Texas and Indianapolis. I think we made some good setup changes from practice where I wasn’t 100 percent happy with the car, but the Arrow car is in a much better place for me now. I still feel like it was not the perfect run on the driving side; there is still time there to find, but the result is good. We know we have a strong car. I think we should be very pleased with our starting position for tomorrow. We can have a really great result and a great race from P10.”

SCOTT DIXON: “We tried a few different things today for qualifying and might have missed a little there. I think the PNC Bank car felt good on long runs though. Hopefully, that means we’ll be good for the race. Obviously, conditions will change and you need to keep up with that. It doesn’t really matter where you start here unless you’re dead last. We’ll keep working on it, and hopefully, have a car to compete with tomorrow night.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST: “I think it definitely helped for us to have the test here. It helped getting up to speed here in practice this morning, for sure. I didn’t feel great with my qualifying run. The balance didn’t seem quite right, and so that’s something we need to go back and work on with the PNC Bank car.”

WILL POWER: “Is it any surprise that I’m second? Is it any surprise (laughter)? It isn’t for me. That’s just this year. No, (the run) was actually pretty good. The car was good. All three (Penske) cars were good.”

TONY KANAAN: “Frustrating. I think I could have been a little bit better. Obviously, the track had some oil dry and that’s the price we pay when we qualify early. The track is only going to get better. The way you do the qualifying draw is by championship points and we didn’t do ourselves any favors by being in the back. This is a track where I led over 500 laps in the course of my career and have a lot of podium finishes, so I’m hopeful this will be our turnaround weekend for sure.”

GRAHAM RAHAL: “Practice didn’t go great and you could see that by the lap times. Qualifying was good, I thought we did a good, solid job. The car had a lot of understeer, but compared to practice, I’ll take it. The One Cure car seemed to have pace; we’ve just got to refine that. And in 175-degree temps, it’s hard to refine. Now we move on to final practice in race time conditions and we’ll see what we’ve got.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “The No. 18 SealMaster Honda car was OK this morning. Then for the qualifying run, I had no grip. I’m not sure what happened between the morning practice and qualifying. We’ll take a look at the data and see what we can come up with.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI: “It’s difficult getting adjusted to the short oval. It’s tough, to say the least. I was loose my whole run. The car was moving out of Turn 2 and I had a massive moment out of Turn 4, so I just kept my foot in it. That said, I’m happy with our qualifying run today. It’s our best start on an oval. Now we have to keep it going tomorrow. Hopefully, we can move up the field during the race and get another top 10 finish on an oval.”

ED CARPENTER: “We expected the track to be a little more free than what it was. We tightened up our car for qualifying having expected the conditions and the rubber from the previous series to free us up. It was the wrong way; we were way too tight and had way too much understeer, so it was hard to attack like you want to in qualifying. A little frustrating because I was happy with the Autogeek Chevrolet in practice, especially on race runs. I thought we had better pace than what we showed. Our qual sim in practice wasn’t that good, so I thought we were going to have a lot better showing in qualifying. The beauty of this racetrack is it has multiple lanes, so you can get to the front if you have a good car. We’ll just have to get it right tonight in this next practice and have a strong first stint tomorrow to protect ourselves and stay on the lead lap.”

SPENCER PIGOT: “We definitely need to see where we can improve. The car has been a bit of a handful so far. We had a great race here last year, so we know what we need from the car. We just have to try and find it. Hopefully, we can have a good session this evening and get the Autogeek Chevy back up front.”

SIMON PAGENAUD: “(The qualifying session) was very intense, with the temperature being so high. The tarmac (track temperature) was 135 degrees Fahrenheit. In these conditions, the car slides around quite a bit. It’s all about having the right balance on the race car. We had a good snapshot this morning of how the car was. We ran quite a bit in traffic. We knew we had to make some adjustments to be really strong on long runs. At the end, we did a qualifying run. (it was) pretty good. Ben (Bretzman) is really good at this stuff, my engineer. We just worked on the little details and made sure we would have enough balance and grip to go through the corner.”

ZACH VEACH: “We just missed the mark by a mile. We had really good pace in the first practice session, ending P10. We thought we had a lot more in the car and the changes we made between sessions was just not the way to go. I had too much understeer and couldn’t carry the speed we need. It is embarrassing to be starting 20th, but we will find a way to make our way to the front, like we usually do.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI: “It has been a tough day, for sure. We can’t really focus on one end of the car; we are fighting both of them. That (sixth place) was our potential, maybe fourth. The Penske cars have looked really strong, which is unfortunate. We have one more (practice) session this afternoon to really dial in that No. 27 NAPA Andretti Honda.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “We were a bit handcuffed during our run, meaning I couldn’t really shift the balance one way or the other with the tools. I was too loose mid-corner and then (had) big understeer really late. The rear of the car would straighten up, then after that, the front would really take off coming up the hill. There wasn’t much I could do with it. I just had to ride it out. We just missed the balance. It’s unfortunate, but if you have a good race car here you can make it all up. That’s what we’ll be looking to do – try to get this DHL 28 car up to the front.”

TAKUMA SATO: “The first lap was pretty good, but unfortunately, on the second lap I had a huge wash out in Turn 2 and had to lift. Considering we had a difficult practice this morning, I think the team did a great job. Iowa is always special for me since I got my first pole position here. There is no rest here. The whole way, all 300 laps, is just very exciting and a hard battle. We had a good race last year and there is no reason why we can repeat that this year.”

SAGE KARAM: “I’m really pleased with our qualifying effort this afternoon here at Iowa. The track was a bit different than it was this morning with the ARCA cars running around this afternoon. They put their rubber down and I think it took a few runs from a few of us up front in the qualifying line to get the Firestone rubber laid back down. I’d say that definitely threw a curve ball in our plan, but we had a really good run and the No. 31 SmartStop Self Storage Carlin Chevrolet felt really good. The car is nice and smooth and feels really consistent, so I was happy to bring it home and get a 14th-place starting position for Carlin and Smart Stop Self Storage.”

CONOR DALY: “The conditions were really tough out there, especially being the first car out after the ARCA cars ran right before qualifying. There was junk rubber and oil all over the outside, which made it tough to run up high. I love lane two in Turns 3 and 4, which is where I was really comfortable all morning in practice, but I just couldn’t run it. I had to be pretty dedicated to the low line and I just didn’t like it down there. It’s just a shame, because I think the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet had a little more speed in it than that. We’re going to put our focus now on tonight’s practice and get our race car a bit more fine-tuned before green flag tomorrow night.”

COLTON HERTA: “We had a really great turnaround from what we had in Practice 1. We struggled this morning and finished 18th, so to recover from that to qualify 11th is great. Looking forward to tomorrow’s race at Iowa Speedway. I’ve always loved racing here. The No. 88 Harding Steinbrenner boys have been working so hard and strong. We’re looking for a good result.

MARCO ANDRETTI: “The car caught me out. It was pretty different end to end from practice. The car was really loose in Turns 3 and 4, then we had understeer in Turns 1 and 2. The lap is a short one, making it hard to switch back and forth with the tools. We need to find that balance during practice tonight. We have to get the car working over the bumps. This team was pretty good here when it was smooth and now it feels almost like a different racetrack.”


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