Will Power has taken pole position for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. The Team Penske driver set a two-lap average of 182.391-mph to take his second pole position of the season, with the Australian hoping that this weekend will mark the end of his recent run of bad luck and poor race results.
As qualifying got underway at Iowa Speedway, the searing heat combined with the new-for-2018 lower downforce universal aero package was presenting a definite challenge for the teams and drivers. Heading into the session, the belief was that the car most likely to be on pole position would be a car that had better drivability to cope with the tricky conditions.
As usual for oval races this season, barring the Indianapolis 500 of course, qualifying saw each driver complete a two-lap run, with the total time of both laps being put together to give them their qualifying result. Such is the shortness of the lap at Iowa Speedway, a total qualifying run, including two warm-up laps and a cool down lap, would easily be completed within two minutes. It is a short amount of track time, but it is an important time too, with many wondering just how easy it will be to pass other cars in Sunday’s race. Track position could prove vital.
Throughout the session, drivers would echo each other when they finished their runs, with most complaining about understeer and a lack of grip compared to the first practice session held earlier in the day.
The drivers headed out to make their qualifying runs in reverse order of their championship position. As the session neared its end and the championship contenders took to the track, the times began to tumble. Simon Pagenaud was the first driver to get a run of over 180mph. The lap-times continued to get faster a few runs later, with Pagenaud’s Penske team-mate Will Power laying down an impressive gauntlet to set a 182-mph run; with his #12 Chevrolet looking planted all the way around the 0.8-mile speedway.
Power went out with four drivers left to make their runs, but none of them could usurp him from the front of the grid. His run of 182.391-mph would be good enough to earn him his forty-second pole position in the Verizon IndyCar Series and his second pole of the season so far. The Australian, who has had somewhat of a run of misfortune since winning the Indy 500 back in May, has had two successive retirements in the last two races. He will be hoping that his fantastic run today will mark the start of yet another comeback, as he looks to reduce the gap between him and the top of the championship standings.
Reigning series champion Josef Newgarden will join his team-mate Power on the front-row of the grid tomorrow. He was just over a tenth of a second slower than Will on his qualifying run. It was almost another clean-sweep for Penske, with Pagenaud having looking potentially fast enough to hold onto third place, but a run later on from Andretti Autosport‘s Ryan Hunter-Reay prevented that from being the case. Ryan, a three-time race-winner at Iowa, would steal third on the grid away from Simon, with just three-hundredths of a second separating the pair.
The top four qualifiers would be the only drivers to make a run faster than 180-mph. Fifth-placed Alexander Rossi was just shy of that mark with a two-lap average of 179.801-mph. Championship leader Scott Dixon was just behind Rossi, qualifying his #9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon will be hoping for a strong result in tomorrow’s race to further solidify his excellent advantage in the standings.
Robert Wickens put in an impressive qualifying run on his first visit to Iowa Speedway. He qualified his #6 Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in seventh place, just ahead of eighth-placed Ed Jones and ninth-placed Ed Carpenter. Rounding out the top ten would be Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s Takuma Sato, with just under half a second separating the top ten on the time-sheets.
The two remaining Andretti Autosport drivers were left scratching their heads after qualifying. Zach Veach and Marco Andretti were both disappointed to not have been further up the order with their team-mates, with the pair qualifying fourteenth and nineteenth respectively after both complained of excessive understeer during their runs.
Recently, both A.J. Foyt Enterprises and Dale Coyne Racing have struggled to find speed in qualifying sessions. This trend continued today. For Foyt, Tony Kanaan would take thirteenth place, with team-mate Matheus Leist propping up the grid in twenty-second and last place. DCR could not do any better, with their duo of Sebastien Bourdais and Zachary Claman De Melo hoping to move forward in the race tomorrow after qualifying down in fifteenth and twentieth respectively.
2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Iowa Corn 300 – Qualifying results:
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