By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Simon Pagenaud claimed his fifth pole of the season and his seventh of his career during qualifying for tomorrow’s Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway.
The Frenchman was the ninth car to qualify and rocketed to pole on the heels of a two lap average of 185.855 mph that no one was able to match.
The pole was Pagenaud’s second on an oval, the first coming at Auto Club Speedway last June and a record setting 500th overall pole for Team Penske.
“Today the car was just beautiful,” said Pagenaud. “We tested here last week and obviously we certainly found something. I’m very comfortable with the car on this bullring as we call. The car is really versitile, it allows me to run high, to run low and also to take away a lot of downforce for qualifying runs.
“I feel super proud to get the 500th pole for Team Penske, this is a very special day for the team and I couldn’t be happier to be that guy.”
Josef Newgarden, who is still nursing a broken hand, managed to qualify in second place with a two lap average at 185.639 mph. Despite matching his best starting spot of the season, Newgarden was hoping to find just that extra little bit in order to claim pole.
“It’s just really hard to qualify second, you almost wish you qualified fifth,” said Newgarden. “That sounds really stupid but it’s always tough to think we needed that last little bit. It’s nothing to complain about, we’ve had fast cars for the last couple years with Ed Carpenter Racing and I feel really good about our race car.”
Helio Castroneves managed to qualify third while, fourth place was a career best qualifying effort for rookie Max Chilton, who won at Iowa Speedway in last year’s Indy Lights race. Chilton led a 4-5-6 position sweep for Chip Ganassi Racing as Charlie Kimball was fifth and 2010 Iowa winner Tony Kanaan ended up in sixth place.
Ed Carpenter ended up in seventh while Road America winner Will Power found himself in eighth place.
Chevrolet led the top eight spots with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Mikhail Aleshin leading the charge for Honda in ninth place. The Russian was the only Honda to out qualify a Chevrolet as a wiggle in Turn 4 on his warmup lap cost Scott Dixon some momentum and he ended up in 10th place, his worst start at Iowa since 2013. Juan Pablo Montoya struggled with finding aero grip on his No. 2 Devilbiss Chevrolet and could only muster an 11th place time, the slowest of the Team Penske cars.
The cars of Andretti Autosport, who have won the last 6 races at Iowa, found themselves in a hole after qualifying as Carlos Munoz was quickest of the bunch in 15th while Alexander Rossi endup in 17th in his first appearance at Iowa Speedway while Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay find themselves deep in the field in 19th and 20th, respectively.