NEWTON, Iowa -- Team Penske hasn't won at Iowa Speedway through the seven Verizon IndyCar Series races. It's short-track package might be the ticket this year on the .894-mile, variably banked oval.
Juan Pablo Montoya, who on July 6 earned his first Indy car victory since 2000, topped the afternoon practice session for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB with a lap of 17.4237 seconds (184.619 mph) in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske car. Teammate Will Power was .0033 of a second back in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car.
Click it: Practice 2 results || Combined practice results || Qualifying order
INDYCAR swapped the afternoon session with single-car qualifications as scattered rain swept across the state. Qualifying is scheduled for 6 p.m. (Central) live on NBCSN. IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR 14 app carry Paul Page and the IMS Radio Network broadcast augmented with Timing & Scoring. There have been eight different Verizon P1 Award winners in the 11 races.
Montoya, Power and Helio Castroneves were among the drivers who tested at Iowa Speedway in mid-June, which was productive. They learned more in two practice sessions -- both of which were interrupted by rain -- and 300 race laps.
“This is a little bit of a mix of like oval and road course with the road course wings," said Montoya, whose only other laps at the short oval were in 2006 in an ARCA car. "I’ve got to figure out how close you can run. Are you comfortable running the second groove and you’ve got to experiment, but you’ve got to experiment carefully because if you get it wrong you are out. Right now, we just really need to be smart about how we do things.
"I think managing traffic is going to be really important. If you are not leading keeping up with the leaders is going to be key."
James Hinchcliffe, the race winner in 2013, was third on the speed chart (17.4514 seconds; 184.421 mph) in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data car for Andretti Autosport, which has won five of the seven races, including the past four. Takuma Sato, a former pole winner at Iowa, was fourth (17.5046; 183.860) in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Scott Dixon (17.5279; 183.616) was fifth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
Power, who is tied with Castroneves (17th on the speed chart) for the championship points lead, is battling bronchitis. He's the first on the track of the 22 qualifiers.
With the victory at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway tri-oval, Montoya moved to fourth in the standings (55 points behind).
“People are happy because a lot of people are still around from back in the day so they are happy for me," he said. "That is pretty cool. I still try not to get overly excited about it. It’s fun. I had a great time, the guys loved it. I think it does build a lot of momentum. It gives a lot of confidence that you can get it done.”
Click for the high-resolution infographic