By: Spencer Neff
July 19, 2019 | 2:56 PM
Qualifying this afternoon at Iowa Speedway gave Team Penske another sweep of the top three spots of the session. This time, Simon Pagenaud led the way for Roger Penske’s team.
After winning on Sunday at the Honda Indy Toronto, Pagenaud turned in a two-lap average of 180.073 mph around the 0.894-mile oval to take his third pole of the season – and 13th of his career. Pagenaud was the only driver to eclipse 180 mph for a two-lap average.
This is Pagenaud’s second career pole at the Newton, Iowa bullring, duplicating his 2016 start. In that race, Pagenaud finished a career-best fourth, his lone top-five at the track.
On the front row, teammate Will Power will join Pagenaud as he just missed out on repeating his pole from last year. Power averaged 1789.589 mph in his effort.
After leading the opening practice this morning, points leader Josef Newgarden starts third on Saturday night. In fourth, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato was the fastest Honda-powered car, as the 2011 pole sitter averaged 177.646 mph.
In 10th, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Marcus Ericsson is the highest up on the grid among the four rookies. Teammate James Hinchcliffe qualified fifth, and he is the defending race winner.
On Saturday, Hinchcliffe will look to become the first repeat winner since Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014 and 2015). With a win, Hinchcliffe would join Hunter-Reay as the track’s only three-time active IndyCar winners. Hunter-Reay, who also won in 2012, qualified ninth.
Despite Chevrolet sweeping the top three with Team Penske, they do not have any other drivers starting among the first 12 spots on the grid.
Conditions proving difficult
In the buildup to Saturday evening’s race, much of the focus has been on the conditions in Iowa. For this afternoon’s qualifying session, that proved to be the case both on and off the track.
Off the track, heat has been a concern for drivers and crews. This weekend’s race will be run in the late afternoon into the evening, which is expected to be the hottest portion of the day. In qualifying, the heat index measured over 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the short ovals on the 2019 calendar, IndyCar increased the boost to 150 kPa, up from 140 in 2018. With the additional horsepower (about 50 more than last year) cars have become trickier to handle.
During qualifying, the Ed Carpenter Racing duo of Spencer Pigot and Ed Carpenter were among those most vocal about handling issues from their cars.
Before qualifying, a delay was forced as track workers cleaned up an incident from another series. First out on the track, Carlin Racing’s Conor Daly radioed to his crew about oil-dry still being on the racing surface.
The conditions will be worth watching to see how teams and drivers handle them in advance of Saturday’s 300-lap event.
Later this evening, drivers will take to the track for a final 60-minute practice. This will be run at 7:00 PM Eastern time, with streaming available via NBC Sports Gold.
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.
Television coverage for tomorrow’s race on NBCSN will begin at 6:30 PM Eastern time, leading into the race broadcast and expected green flag at 7:10 PM.
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.