|A happy Takuma Sato|
Takuma Sato earned his first IZOD IndyCar Series pole start, posting a two-lap average speed of 180.375 mph on the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway oval.
Danica Patrick, driving the No. 7 Team GoDaddy car for Andretti Autosport, averaged 180.210 and will start next to the KV Racing Technology-Lotus driver.
Tony Kanaan (179.833) and JR Hildebrand (179.569) will share Row 2, and Will Power (179.474) and Dario Franchitti (179.474) — tied for the series championship points lead heading into the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer — will be on Row 3. The were separated by 0.0001 in cumulative time.
Six different teams are represented in the top 10; 23 of the 24 cars to make a qualifying attempt were separated by less than a second.
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, qualified with a two-lap average speed of 180.375 mph on the 0.875-mile D-shaped oval. Tony Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO- KV Racing Technology – Lotus, went out second of the 25 cars making a qualifying attempt and posted a speed of 179.833 mph putting him on the pole until Sato, who went out 21st, made his run. Kanaan will start a season-high third. E. J. Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, had an average speed of 177.680 mph placing him 19th on the grid, the same as he qualified last year when he finished an IndyCar career-high third.
Sato captured his first pole in just his 26th IndyCar start, 13th on an oval and second at Iowa. This is the third “official" pole and fourth overall in team history. Jimmy Vasser captured the team’s first pole at Milwaukee in 2005. Tristan Gommendy followed with a pole at Mont Tremblant in 2007 and Will Power took the pole at the Surfers Paradise “exhibition" race in 2008.
“I want to say a big thank you to the whole team, the fans, the sponsors and everyone who has supported me," Sato said. “It is a fantastic achievement. I knew we were going to be competitive because of last year and this morning I was truly comfortable in the car. I could feel where we needed to be with the setup for qualifying. Working so closely today with the three KVRT – Lotus drivers, working so closely with my engineers, we had a great answer. The mechanics also did a great job preparing the car. I am very pleased with today’s result."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, PEAK Performance Pole Award Winner): "I want to say a big thank you to the whole team, the fans, the sponsors and everyone who has supported me. It is a fantastic achievement. I knew we were going to be competitive because of last year and this morning I was truly comfortable in the car. I could feel where we needed to be with the setup for qualifying. Working so closely today with the three KVRT – Lotus drivers, working so closely with my engineers, we had a great answer. The mechanics also did a great job preparing the car. I am very pleased with today's result."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy, qualified second): "It feels really good to have the GoDaddy car in position to be able to guard up front and have the opportunity for a solid race day. On short tracks like this it's nice to start near the front because you can gain ground more quickly. If you start near the back of the field you could be a lap behind very quickly. I haven't started on the front row in a long time so it's a good feeling."
TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, qualified third): "Not a bad run for the GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus guys. This track is always a challenge and to qualify near the front is a big advantage. You know, you always hate to see your number fall from the pole position during qualifications, but if it has to happen the only way it is acceptable is for a teammate's number to be sitting on top of yours. I am proud for Takuma and for the KVRT – Lotus organization as a whole."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, qualified fourth): "We got the ole girl a little loose there in practice, so we made a bunch of changes during the break and obviously rolled out there in qualifying and felt pretty good. We're excited about what we had in qualifying there and even more excited about what we can have in the race. When we rolled out in practice we were really good and then we lost it a little bit. We started to have some issues at the end of that practice, but we locked ourselves into the transporter until qualifying and we definitely got it right. We're excited that we had a good run there in qualifying and we've got another practice session tonight to work on the racecar."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, qualified fifth):"After the struggles we had last week in qualifying, we're just feeling good to be starting somewhere close to the front. The Verizon car was OK today in qualifying but what's important here is to be good for the race. We need to go back and talk to the engineers and probably make a few adjustments tonight before the race tomorrow. We finished top-five here last here and we need to make sure we have another strong result tomorrow."
DARIO FRANCHITTI: (No. 10 Suave, qualified sixth): "I wasn't happy with the run. The balance wasn't good and we struggled with both ends of the Suave car. I don't think it was as bad as Scott's but I think both our cars just missed it today in qualifying. We'll be better."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "We had some problems in practice with an oil line going bad and we only got about 20 laps in during practice so it was sort of an exercise in faith to go out there and keep the Sprott car flat. It was good. Oriol helped us out again because we relied on his data for qualifying like in Milwaukee. To go straight into qualifying without having done a flat out lap yet in practice was a little challenging but Newman/Haas gave me a great car. I was surprised by our performance to be honest; it was pretty much on edge but we put up a decent time. The team hasn't had a lot of success at this track so we weren't sure what to expect but after that, hopefully we're a little better than we thought. This is a short track that races like a super speedway. The variable banking really helps us put on good races, you can run different lines here. It's going to be a long, quick, busy Saturday night. I'm looking forward to it; its going to be fun."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda, qualified eighth): "I think that was a good first run for the car with Circle K on it, along with DHL and Sun Drop. It's great to have all their support. But, we can work from there. Last year, we qualified 12th and we were up to the top five within the first 10 or 15 laps, so hopefully we're headed in that direction again. The guys did a great job preparing the car and we're looking forward to getting things going tomorrow night."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Andretti Autosport, qualified ninth): "The car felt OK. It felt pretty 'stuck.' It felt similar to this morning. I thought there would be a little more speed there, but it was OK. Hopefully, we'll be able to race well from there tomorrow night."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "After running well with the Venom car in the morning warm-up, I was a bit disappointed with the qualifying results. I think there's a bit less grip on the track than last year and some of that could be in the tires. We're sliding more this year for sure and just weren't able to get the speed we needed in qualifying."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and Novolog FlexPen): "I'm pretty happy with that run. I was flat all the way around, we just missed the setup a little bit; missed the car balance. I'm a little disappointed personally but that's part of being rookie, it doesn't help anyone to go out and sack it in qualifying. My three teammates and are all fighting a really loose race car, so we went aggressively the other way to keep the No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car good for me. The Novo Nordisk team will go back to work and we'll be ready to race tomorrow night."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "The No. 38 Service Central car has been really good in race trim and I still feel very confident in our car. We'll be just fine when it comes to racing tomorrow night. Obviously, we tried something for qualifying and it just didn't work. We'll get on the right track and try to qualify better but it looks like we're going to start 20th here at Iowa. The Service Central team has some work ahead of us tomorrow, but we've been there and done this before. "
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske): "It was a little bit tough out there today in the Guidepoint Systems car. We were a little bit neutral, but we managed to complete the run. Now we just look forward to the race tomorrow and do our best to execute our strategy and work our way to the front."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske): "Our qualifying run in the PPG Automotive Refinish car was just OK. The car was sliding around a bit and we were fighting some understeer. We just couldn't hold the bottom line and that's probably the difference between being on pole and not. We just needed to have better balance all the way around to keep it on the bottom of the track. We'll keep working on it and make sure we've got what we need for the race tomorrow."
JUSTIN WILSON ( No. 22 Dad's Root Beer/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "The Dad's Root Beer car was pretty good for qualifying. We had a little push in the middle and we were also going loose. I definitely had to work on it out there. I think that the key is working on a good racecar for tomorrow so that we can be consistent throughout the race. If we can do that, we will have a good day and hopefully bring the Dad's Root Beer car hope with a strong result."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Team Ipiranga/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "It was a hard run. I think that we improved the Ipiranga car, but it wasn't as fast as it was this morning, which was a little bit disappointing. The most important thing to do right now is to focus on the race and have a fast car that is fast in traffic so that we can move up positions."
VITOR MEIRA (No 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "The run itself felt okay. I think we achieved what we wanted to achieve which was to improve from practice to qualifying. I don't know how it will stack up, we shall see. At this point, the race car is good and that is what matters here. (Racing at night?) I think running at night will change things a little bit because here normally, the longer runs are the ones that hurt the car the most as far as losing grip so as the run progresses during the night it will get cooler so it might not be as big of a factor as it is during the day but it will still be a factor. (Is that because the banking puts more stress on the tires?) I think it's a combination of a number of things, the track is faster, it has a lot of banking so it loads the car quite a lot. We do have a lot of steering input because the turns are pretty tight so it's all of these things together which puts a lot of stress on the tires."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "The Target car was just really loose and it was a pretty bad attempt. I almost spun on the out lap and the first timed lap. We are just way too loose and it was not what we're looking for."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "We are a lot slower than last year. I don't think that the set-up of the car is all that good. We're struggling the grip level. We have both understeer and oversteer at the same time. It's not where we want to be for sure. I was expecting the car to be a lot quicker than it is right now."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "I'm a little disappointed in the run. We were flat (on the pedal), easy flat actually so we expected to be a little faster. The Telemundo car honestly felt great in traffic in practice today and that's what matters here. We just wanted a little more speed but will have to wait until tomorrow."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, qualified 19th): "Since the first practice here in Iowa it has been difficult for the PDVSA – KVRT – Lotus crew. We just came from a race in Milwaukee where I was running good but we damaged the primary car, so we had to go to the back-up car. I am not saying that is the reason we are slow, but it does raise some doubts. Anyway there is nothing we can do but stay strong and work hard. The one thing we know is that our best results this year have come when we started from the back. Also, last year I started 19th here, the same as this year, and finished third, so I am excited and confident we can have a very good race tomorrow."
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