By: Spencer Neff
July 19, 2019 | 7:40 PM
Capping off a stellar day for he and Team Penske, Simon Pagenaud led the way during Friday evening’s final practice at Iowa Speedway. After winning the pole for Saturday’s Iowa 300, the Indianapolis 500 winner topped the speed charts in the 60-minute session.
With a best lap of 174.462 mph (18.4476s) on the 0.894-mile Newton, Iowa bullring, Pagenaud showed his prowess.
In second, teammate and 2016 race winner Josef Newgarden ran his best lap at .0729 seconds behind his teammate. For the race, Newgarden will roll off the grid in third.
In all three of today’s on-track sessions, Team Penske has occupied at least the top two spots. During both of the first two on-track sessions, the three-car team ran 1-2-3. However, in final practice, Will Power was eighth on the final speed charts. Tomorrow night, he will start second.
Despite Team Penske’s dominance, a few other teams have been able to showcase their speed.
Making it a Chevrolet sweep of the first three spots, owner/driver Ed Carpenter slotted in behind his Bowtie stablemates. Leading the way for the Honda-powered teams was Chip Ganassi Racing in fourth.
Rounding out the Top Five was Conor Daly, who returns for his second straight oval race with Carlin Racing.
All five drivers were able to run laps above 170 mph and within the 18-second bracket. With a field separation of just 1.2459 seconds and the first 19 cars being separated by less than a second, expect tomorrow night to be another hotly-contested race.
Although the drivers and teams will be pleased with the quick times, much of the focus in final practice was dialing things in for tomorrow night’s race.
Race prep leads to busy session
With this practice occurring close to the scheduled green flag time of tomorrow night’s race, teams were able to log several lengthy runs. In this session, each driver ran at least 64 laps.
Of the 22 drivers slated to take the green flag, eight ran 100 or more laps. First among them was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato.
In final practice, the 2011 Iowa pole-sitter led the field as he completed 128 laps. On the other side, 2011 race winner Marco Andretti completed 64 in his Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajanian machine.
With Saturday’s race scheduled for 300 laps, drivers now have a better feel for how the cars will perform during the longer stints in the race.
Television coverage for tomorrow’s race on NBCSN will begin at 7:00 PM Eastern time, leading into the race broadcast and expected green flag at 7:10 PM.
As always, head to racecontrol.indycar.com for timing and scoring. Additionally, you can find streaming of the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network at the Race Control website.
Have a great weekend and check out Open-Wheels.com for continued coverage on the Iowa 300 and the NTT IndyCar Series.
Header image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR.