Sunday, July 9, 2017

Morning Warm-Up: Iowa 2017

For the seventh time in 2017, Team Penske has won pole position
Will Power took his fourth pole position of the season and the 48th pole position of his IndyCar career with a two-lap average at 185.210 MPH at Iowa Speedway. It was Power's third career pole position at Iowa Speedway. He finished fifth from pole position in 2010 and he finished three laps down in 17th despite starting on pole position in 2013. The Australian has won twice from pole position on an oval. He did it at Fontana in 2013 and at Milwaukee in 2014. Power won from pole position at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May. He hasn't won multiple races from pole position in a season since 2011 when he won four times from the first position on the grid. J.R. Hildebrand joins Power on the front row for what is the Californian's best career starting position in IndyCar. He previously set his career-best starting position at Phoenix in April when he started third. Hildebrand had started the last four races from 18th on the grid. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver was over a quarter of a second off the Penske driver. Last year, Ed Carpenter Racing won at Iowa after Josef Newgarden started second to a Penske driver.

Hélio Castroneves will be directly behind his teammate on row two of the grid as will be Ed Carpenter. Castroneves started third last year at Iowa and finished two laps down in 13th. The Brazilian's most recent victory at Belle Isle just over three years ago came from third on the grid. His only victory from third on a grid on an oval came at Texas in 2006. Fourth matches Carpenter's best career starting position at Iowa. He finished fourth from fourth on the grid in 2013. This is the first time Ed Carpenter Racing has had multiple qualifiers in the top five. Takuma Sato was the top Honda qualifier in fifth position. This is Sato's fifth top five start of the season and it has already surpassed the Japanese driver's previous most top five starts in a season. Mikhail Aleshin qualified sixth, matching his best starting position of the season. Aleshin has been the top Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver on all four ovals this season.

Tony Kanaan qualified in seventh position. He started seventh and finished fifth in the Indianapolis 500 in May and led 22 laps. Kanaan started seventh at Iowa in 2007 and 2009. Both races ended for Kanaan in turn two accidents. Ed Jones finally got his first career top ten starting position with the Emirati driver ending up eighth on the grid. Jones has yet to lead a lap in his IndyCar career. He led 69 laps at Iowa in two Indy Lights starts. James Hinchcliffe starts ninth for the second consecutive race. This will be Hinchcliffe's 100th IndyCar start. He started eight on his debut at Barber in 2011. In his previous seven starts from ninth position, Hinchcliffe finished fifth at Mid-Ohio last year and eighth at Sonoma in 2013 and he has finished a lap down in four of those starts. Graham Rahal rounds out the top ten. This is only Rahal's third time starting in the top ten at Iowa. The Ohioan has only led 19 laps in his career at the 7/8-mile oval.

Simon Pagenaud will start 11th in the #1 Menards Chevrolet. Pagenaud started 11th and finished 11th at Iowa in 2014. The Frenchman led 11 laps last year after starting on pole position. He started 11th and finished fifth at Belle Isle in June. Alexander Rossi joins Pagenaud on row six. Rossi finished sixth last year at Iowa after starting 17th. Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball make it an all-Ganassi row seven. Chilton heads to Iowa coming off back-to-back top ten finishes. Chilton led his first career laps last year at Iowa when he led two laps during a pit cycle. He wouldn't lead another lap until he led 50 laps in this year's Indianapolis 500. Chilton led eight laps at Texas last month. This is the third time Kimball has started 14th at Iowa. He finished 11th and 12th in 2012 and 2013 respectively from 14th in the grid.

Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified 15th for what will be his tenth Iowa start. Hunter-Reay has three victories at Iowa as well as three eighth-place finishes. He has failed to pick up a top ten finish in the last five races. Josef Newgarden joins Hunter-Reay on row eight. They finished 1-2 at Iowa in 2014 and 2015. Newgarden started 21st for that 2014 race. This is the first time Newgarden has started 16th since Long Beach 2013, he finished 13th that day. Scott Dixon will start 17th. The championship leader had started the previous 13 races in the top ten. Dixon won from 17th on the grid at Pocono in 2013. This is Dixon's second-worst starting position at Iowa. He went from 23rd on the grid to third in the 2011 race. Esteban Gutiérrez joins Dixon on row nine. The Mexican driver had started 19th, 19th and 17th in his previous three career starts.

Conor Daly and Marco Andretti will start on row ten. Daly has been the top A.J. Foyt Racing qualifier in four races, including the last two oval races. Daly has yet to finish on the lead lap on an oval in his IndyCar career. Andretti holds the record for furthest starting position back for an Iowa winner. He won from 17th on the grid in 2011. Carlos Muñoz will round out the field in 21st after the Colombian had a spin exiting turn two in qualifying. His starting position has progressively gotten worst at Iowa after starting fifth, 12th and 15th in his first three Iowa starts. Muñoz has finished 12th, fifth and 12th in those three Iowa starts. He has never led a lap at Iowa.

NBCSN's coverage of the Iowa Corn 300 begins at 5:00 p.m. ET with green flag scheduled for 5:44 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 300 laps.