Sunday, July 10, 2016

Morning Warm-Up: Iowa 2016

Can Simon Pagenaud extend his championship lead at Iowa?
Simon Pagenaud won his fourth pole position of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season at Iowa Speedway. It is his second career pole position on an oval. He started on pole position at Fontana last year. In that Fontana race, Pagenaud led only three laps and finished ninth. Pagenaud has won twice from pole position this season at Barber and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and he finished second from pole position at Belle Isle 2. In the other race Pagenaud started on pole position he ran out of fuel on the final lap in Belle Isle 1 while running seventh and dropping to 13th. Pagenaud has led the most laps in every race he has started from pole position this season. Josef Newgarden will start on the outside of row one. The ECR driver has finished second the last two years at Iowa. Newgarden started second in the Indianapolis 500 and finished third. He led 14 laps in that race. Newgarden's previous best starting position at Iowa was seventh.

Hélio Castroneves qualified third making this the ninth time Castroneves has qualified on one of the first two rows at Iowa. He started third at Iowa two years ago and finished eighth after leading 34 laps. When Castroneves finished second in 2010 he started fourth. Max Chilton qualified a career best fourth, surpassing his previous best, which was set a fortnight ago at Road America. Chilton's average finish in the last three races is 21.0 with his best finish being 20th in that span. Charlie Kimball qualified fifth, a career best for him at Iowa. His previous best at the track was seventh. This is the sixth time Kimball has qualified in the top five in his IndyCar career and two of those five came earlier this season (Phoenix and Grand Prix of Indianapolis). His only IndyCar victory was from fifth at Mid-Ohio in 2013. Tony Kanaan makes it three consecutive Ganassi drivers on the grid, as Kanaan will line up in sixth.

Ed Carpenter qualified seventh, his second top ten start of the season. Carpenter hasn't finished in the top ten after starting in the top ten since he started seventh and finished ninth at Milwaukee in 2014. Carpenter has four consecutive top ten finishes at Iowa. Will Power joins Carpenter on row four after he qualified eighth. Power won from eighth on the grid in Belle Isle 2 last month, his only victory from eighth in his IndyCar career. Power has never won an oval race when starting outside the first two rows. Mikhail Aleshin was the top qualifying Honda and he will start ninth. It is Aleshin's fourth top ten start of the season. His best finish in those three previous races was 13th at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Scott Dixon rounds out the top ten, his second worst starting position of the season. He started 13th in the Indianapolis 500.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Graham Rahal will start on row six. Montoya has only won once in his career from outside the top ten on the grid. That was last year's Indianapolis 500 where he started 15th. Both of Rahal's victories in 2015 came when he started outside the top ten. He won from 19th at Fontana and won from 13th at Mid-Ohio. Takuma Sato qualified 13th, his best starting position at Iowa since he won pole position at the track in 2011. Sato has never finished better than 12th at Iowa and has never finished on the lead lap at Iowa. Joining Sato on row seven will his A.J. Foyt Racing teammate Jack Hawksworth. Fourteenth is Hawksworth's best starting position on an oval since Pocono last year where he finished 22nd after a driveshaft failure.

Carlos Muñoz qualified 15th, his worst starting position at Iowa. In his 13 previous starts of 15th or worse, Muñoz has five top tens, including his victory from 20th in a rain-shortened Belle Isle 1 last year. Sébastien Bourdais is the worst qualifying Chevrolet in 16th. This is Bourdais' second best starting position at Iowa in four career starts. He finished ninth last year at Iowa from 24th on the grid. Alexander Rossi will start 17th in his Iowa debut. This is Rossi's worst career starting position on an oval. Gabby Chaves will round out row nine. Chaves has started inside the top fifteen on an oval once in his career. That was a 12th at Milwaukee last year.

Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay make it an all-Andretti Autosport row ten. Andretti won at Iowa from 17th in 2011. No driver has won from further back at Iowa than Andretti. Hunter-Reay won the 98th Indianapolis 500 from 19th on the grid. Hunter-Reay won at Iowa last year from 13th. Conor Daly makes his Iowa debut from 21st position. This is the eighth time in 15 career IndyCar starts Daly has started outside the top twenty. James Hinchcliffe rounds out the field in 22nd. This is the third time Hinchcliffe has started 22nd this season. He went from 22nd to 18th at Phoenix and from 22nd to 14th at Road America a fortnight ago.

NBCSN's coverage of the Iowa Corn 300 from Iowa Speedway begins at 5:00 p.m. ET with green flag scheduled for 5:40 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 300 laps.