By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
NEWTON, Iowa — Will Power was the last car to qualify for Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 300 for the Verizon IndyCar Series and that seemed to be the charm as he clinched his 48th career pole in competition with a two-lap average of 185.210 mph.
Power dethroned apparent pole winner JR Hildebrand from Ed Carpenter Racing as Hildebrand managed to set a two-lap average of 183.811 mph for the outside of the front row while driving the same car that dominated the event last year.
What’s more impressive is that two hours before qualifying, Hildebrand spun coming through Turn 2, knocking the rear wing loose and allowing his steering wheel to set a new altitude record at Iowa Speedway as it launched itself off of the steering column.
Qualifying was briefly interrupted when A.J. Foyt Racing’s Carlos Munoz spun during his first lap. Munoz lightly tapped the wall with the rear of the car and he will start 21st.
Behind Power and Hildebrand are their teammates. Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves will start third while Hildebrand’s car owner Ed Carpenter will start fourth.
For Hildebrand, his run wasn’t as big of a surprise to him because he had absolute confidence in his team’s work.
“Felt pretty good with the car, and then went to do our qual sim and there was a couple little things that we felt like we clearly could have done a little bit differently to have a different outcome there,” Hildebrand said.
“But car felt great for the first lap and a half, and then going through 1 and 2, just ran over that bump there and the car bottomed out and I lost it, and that was all she wrote, sort of.
“Had an unfortunate trip to the medical center and gave the guys a little extra work, but I think for me this year, Texas, running at Texas this year and having the guys fix the car in the middle of the race with no setup pad, and nothing else gives me more confidence than I’ll ever need that they can definitely give me something to be confident in going back out without testing it again,” Hildebrand added.
Meanwhile, 2016 Iowa Corn Indy 300 winner Josef Newgarden was saddled with an early draw and will roll off 16th while 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud will line up 11th. Pagenaud finished fourth last year at Iowa while both Newgarden and Pagenaud drive for Team Penske.
Iowa Corn 300 Qualifying Results
1. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 185.210
2. (21) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 183.811
3. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 183.712
4. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 183.503
5. (26) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 182.653
6. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 182.454
7. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 182.394
8. (19) Ed Jones, Dallara-Honda, 182.290
9. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 181.187
10. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 181.138
11. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy, 181.137
12. (98) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Honda, 181.136
13. (8) Max Chilton, Dallara-Honda, 180.927
14. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 180.863
15. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 180.716
16. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 180.343
17. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 180.302
18. (18) Esteban Gutierrez, Dallara-Honda, 179.389
19. (4) Conor Daly, Dallara-Chevy, 178.613
20. (27) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 171.710
21. (14) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Chevy, no speed