NEWTON, Iowa – Will Power climbed a step closer to a legend in Verizon P1 Award qualifying for the Iowa Corn 300.
The Team Penske driver completed the fastest two-lap trip around Iowa Speedway among the 22 Verizon IndyCar Series entrants on Saturday to win the 52nd pole position of his 14-year Indy car career. The reigning Indianapolis 500 winner and 2014 series champion moved within one pole position of tying the great A.J. Foyt for second place on the all-time list.
IOWA CORN 300: Qualifying results
Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power earned his second straight Verizon P1 Award at Iowa Speedway and third career pole position at the 0.894-mile oval with an average speed of 182.391 mph.
“It wasn’t easy, but the car was great,” said Power, whose 34 race wins rate tied for eighth on the all-time chart. “You really have to drive it. It was quite difficult over all the bumps, but we tested here (last week) and unloaded well (this weekend). Yeah, it’s the start of a good weekend. I’ve had a couple of bad ones and I want a really good weekend this weekend.”
Power has finished 18th and 23rd in the two most recent races this season, sliding from first to fifth in the championship standings. He hopes to turn things around in Sunday’s race and earn his first win at the track, though no pole sitter has won in the same year at Iowa in 11 previous Indy car races.
“I love this place,” said Power, who has qualified in the top three in 10 of the 11 Verizon IndyCar Series races this season and started in the top 10 in 21 straight races dating to last season. “It’s a real tough little bullring oval and, man, I’ve been trying to win this (race) for so long. So, obviously, starting the race in a good spot.”
Team Penske, which has won four straight poles at Iowa and seven overall, dominated qualifying by taking three of the top four spots. Josef Newgarden, the 2016 Iowa winner when he drove for Ed Carpenter Racing, qualified second in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet at 181.160 mph. Simon Pagenaud will start fourth after qualifying at 180.313 mph in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.
Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay prevented Team Penske from sweeping the top three spots in qualifying. Hunter-Reay qualified an Iowa-best third in the No. 28 DHL Honda at 180.681 mph.
“We just missed it a little bit, but good job by the team,” Hunter-Reay said. “The (No.) 28 car was decent. We got a little bit light overall. I couldn’t commit to full throttle leaving the corner, just a bit too much understeer.
“It’s unfortunate to not be on pole, but when we miss it and we are still starting P3, it’s not too bad. Tomorrow is where all the points are paid, and I think we can get the DHL team a fourth Iowa Corn 300 win.”
Andretti Autosport has won seven Iowa races with five different drivers. Hunter-Reay has three of those victories, coming in 2012, ’14 and ’15.
Scott Dixon, the championship leader after 10 races with a 45-point lead over Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi, qualified sixth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (179.526 mph).
Live coverage of Sunday’s Iowa Corn 300, the 11th of 17 races on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, begins at 2 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.