Penske's Power cruises to pole at Iowa
8 July 2017 – Will Power went last in qualifying for Sunday's Iowa Corn 300 but still cleared the field by 1.4mph to win pole at the Iowa Speedway.
The Australian was the only driver to set two laps in the 185mph range around the 7/8-mile oval, aided by a steadily-improving track throughout the afternoon.
He will lead the field to green tomorrow evening in front of Ed Carpenter Racing's JR Hildebrand, Hélio Castroneves and Carpenter, himself.
At a track previously dominated by Andretti Autosport, Takuma Sato represents the highest qualifier on that team and the fastest Honda on the grid. He held off Mikhail Aleshin, who briefly held provisional pole early in the session.
Qualifying got off to a surprising start with Josef Newgarden failing to find early pole speed. His Penske team had gone aggressive on his setup, putting faith into the man who dominated this race a year ago – at one point lapping nearly the whole field. He will start 16th.
Carlos Muñoz also delivered a surprise, spinning off the bump in Turn 2 and sliding lightly rear-first into the SAFER barrier. His accident was similar to Hildebrand's earlier in the day where his team only had to replace his rear wing. Muñoz will start last.
Ed Jones then assumed first despite a recent diagnosis of a broken left foot suffered earlier in the year. He cruised a few tenths clear of the field roughly a third of the way through single-car two-lap qualifying and stayed there for several minutes.
Estéban Gutierrez survived his first IndyCar oval qualifying to start P18, clocking a time quicker than Conor Daly and Marco Andretti (but still in the 179mph-range).
Andretti, however, believed that something broke in the car on his first lap after nearly sliding up into wall several times. His second flying lap averaged 168.821mph, the slowest of any completed lap today.
Aleshin snatched provisional pole for a brief moment with a 182.454mph two-lap average, but he was quickly usurped by Hildebrand, at times being unsettled by the bump over the Turn 2 tunnel. The American's speed was a full 1.4mph faster than the Russian's, but even that looked in jeopardy seconds later.
Castroneves set the quickest warm-up lap of the day at that point and trended quicker than Hildebrand before dropping off on his second lap by nearly two miles-per-hour. His average was just 0.1mph slower, something he blamed on hitting the rev limiter at an inopportune time on the backstretch. The 2015 pole-sitter will start third.
Another perennial frontrunner, Tony Kanaan, carried the banner for Ganassi, qualifying seventh. Ganassi is yet to win at the Iowa Speedway in ten years of competing there.
Farther back, Scott Dixon was no match for his team-mate's pace and will line up 17th, some five miles-per-hour slower than pole.
The Iowa Corn Indy 300 goes green tomorrow at 16:44 local time (GMT-5)