Simon Pagenaud raced to his third pole of the season and second in a row.
Proving he’s not going away without a fight, Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud continued his pursuit of a second NTT IndyCar Series championship by winning the pole on Friday for the Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway.
Pagenaud’s pole speed was 180.073 mph. It was his third pole of the season and second in as many races after the Team Penske veteran took the top qualifying spot at Toronto a week ago.
Penske teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden qualified 2-3, and Takuma Sato completed the second row. Newgarden enters the weekend as the season points leader, while Alexander Rossi, who qualified sixth, is second and Pagenaud third.
“There’s very strong competition within the team,” said Pagenaud, the 2016 IndyCar champion. “Team Penske is phenomenal. They give us the fastest car. I think Team Chevy also has a big part in this. They’ve made such an improvement since Toronto. Definitely seem to have the upper hand right now. So thanks to them for doing that.”
Pagenaud hopes to continue his consistent run of finishes, as he has nine top-10 finishes in 11 races.
“Team Penske, man, they keep plugging away all season long,” Pagenaud said. “We’re really right now hitting our stride. Definitely happy to be ahead of my teammates. Josef is main competition this year. I got to grab any points I can get, be aggressive, show authority. That’s what we’re trying to do with the No. 22 car.”
Pagenaud will lead a field of 22 cars to the green flag on the 7/8ths mile mile track of Saturday’s Iowa 300 (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network and SiriusXM Channel 209).
“We do superspeedways, one-and-a-half-mile speedways, short ovals, street courses, road courses,” Pagenaud said. “To win a championship here, you need to be really complete. It takes a lifetime to be a complete driver, let me tell you.
“But that’s what I enjoy about IndyCar, the diversity in skills, in tracks. I think for the fans, they get everything they want to see throughout the season.”
Team Penske’s only race win at Iowa came in 2017 with Hélio Castroneves. Last year, Newgarden led 229 of the 300 laps, but was forced to settle for a fourth-place finish when three other drivers passed on a late chance to pit for new tires. No pole winner has won the Iowa race.
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