Iowa: Series qualifying report

POWER TAKES POLE AT IOWA; SAAVEDRA WINS AVOIDTHESTORK.COM 100 NEWTON, Iowa -Will Power earned the PEAK Performance Pole Award for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer by the narrowest of margins. The Team Penske driver claimed his...

POWER TAKES POLE AT IOWA; SAAVEDRA WINS AVOIDTHESTORK.COM 100

NEWTON, Iowa -Will Power earned the PEAK Performance Pole Award for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer by the narrowest of margins.

The Team Penske driver claimed his fourth pole of the season with a four-lap average speed of 181.337mph (1 minute, 10.9925 seconds) on the .875-mile oval. Scott Dixon, the pole sitter in 2007 and '08 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, came up just short of supplanting Briscoe - 0.0020 of a second to be precise. He averaged 181.332 mph.

In fact, the top six cars were separated by less than two-tenths of a second. Marco Andretti and Helio Castroneves will be on Row 2, while two-time race winner Dario Franchitti and Alex Tagliani will share Row 3.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

This is the fourth IZOD IndyCar Series event at Iowa Speedway. Dario Franchitti won the race in 2009. Scott Dixon holds the single-lap qualifying record with a lap of 17.6486 seconds, 182.360 mph set in June 2007. Past winners Dario Franchitti (2007 and 2009), and Dan Wheldon are entered in the event.

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Medical update from Dr. Geoffrey Billows, IRL medical official: Hideki Mutoh and Alex Lloyd are cleared to compete this weekend. Mutoh crashed at a test at Iowa Speedway on June 9, Lloyd had an emergency appendectomy on June 11.

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Iowa National Guard Sgt. Andrew Barden was named Panther Racing's Hometown Hero for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer.

Panther honors a member of each respective state's National Guard at every domestic IZOD IndyCar Series event, and makes each soldier their own "Hero Card," which they use while participating in the driver autograph session during the race weekend.

In addition to joining Dan Wheldon at the autograph session, each Hometown Hero also receives an Indy Racing Experience two-seater ride, is honored in a private ceremony with Panther and National Guard VIPs before the race and is recognized during driver introductions.

Sgt. Barden has earned the Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation and the Iraq Campaign Medal.

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The right-side Firehawk tires developed by Firestone Racing engineers are a 2010 superspeedway tire specification from Texas and Kansas. The left-side tire is an all-new compound, but similar to the 2010 Indianapolis left-side tire spec. The combination of tires affords excellent durability from the right-side tires while using the left-side tires to enhance grip.

"Iowa Speedway presents Firestone Racing with a very unique challenge," Firestone Racing executive director Al Speyer said. "Although it is technically a short oval, the high speeds and loads it produces require the durability of a superspeedway specification tire."

Longevity: The Iowa Corn Indy 250 marks the 452nd open-wheel racing event for Newman/Haas Racing, which will have entered a total of 800 cars.

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Team owner/driver Sarah Fisher will be making her 80th IZOD IndyCar Series start. … Danica Patrick has been running at the finish in the past 23 races. Series points leader Dario Franchitti has been running at the finish in the past 21 races. The series record is 28 by Scott Dixon. … Dixon will seek to extend his series top-10 qualifying record to 40. … Team Penske drivers have earned a series-record six PEAK Performance Pole Awards. The past two qualifying sessions at Iowa Speedway were canceled because of rain and weepers and the grid was set by entrant points.

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In two IZOD IndyCar Series starts at Iowa Speedway, Hideki Mutoh has finished second (2008) and third (2009). In addition, he competed in Firestone Indy Lights in 2007 and finished third.

"I really don't know what it is about Iowa Speedway that brings good results for me but I like it," said Mutoh, who will drive the No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic car for Newman/Haas Racing. "It's a high-banked short oval where you are always turning left; you don't have time to rest. It's a very physical track and you have to constantly be focused. All of those things seem to suit me."

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Father's Day is June 20 and A.J. Foyt Racing driver Vitor Meira weighs in on his father's influence in his life.

"Most of my memories around my dad involve racing. When I was little I wanted an electric mini-car and my dad gave me a choice between that and a go-kart. I knew nothing about go-karts so he took me to a track to see them. He said I could run the mini-car at home anytime I wanted but the go-kart I could only run at the race track. I chose the go-kart. It was faster and louder and I could race against other kids. It looked like a lot more fun. Looking back now, I think it was really perceptive on his part."

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Governor to say a few words: Iowa Gov. Chet Culver will address spectators as part of the pre-race program. Tim Burrack, chairman of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, is the grand marshal. Don Elsbernd, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, is the honorary starter.

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Andretti Autosport driver Danica Patrick will be presented $10,000 for being voted the Firestone Tire-ific Award winner for her runner-up finish in the Firestone 550K at Texas Motor Speedway on June 5.

After every IZOD IndyCar Series race, Firestone Racing nominates three drivers who best utilized their Firestone tires to make a bold, dramatic move during the event. Fans vote for the driver who they believe made the most Tire-ific move of the race at www.indycar.com.

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Dale Coyne Racing's Milka Duno spoke to students at the Viking Theatre on the Grand View University campus in Des Moines on June 18. The Iowa Department of Human Rights presented the event in conjunction with Duno's "Milka Way" program that stresses the importance of education to students of all ages.

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Helio Castroneves' book, "Victory Road: The Ride of My Life," is on sale at bookstores and online at www.amazon.com. The book chronicles Castroneves' emotional life on and off the racetrack and it serves as an inspirational story about meeting life's challenges.

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Team Penske crew member Jaime Coats is not at Iowa Speedway this weekend as he and his wife are expecting their first child. Veteran mechanic Rick Rinaman is filling in for Coats this weekend as the inside rear tire changer on Ryan Briscoe's No. 6 car.

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PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:

* This is Will Power's fourth pole of 2010 and the sixth pole of his IZOD IndyCar Series career. He also won poles this season at St. Petersburg, Barber and Long Beach.

* This is Power's first-ever pole on an oval.

* The margin between polesitter Will Power and second-place qualifier Scott Dixon is 0.0020 of a second. It is the closest margin since the IZOD IndyCar Series went to four-lap qualifying in 2008.

* Team Penske won the pole for the seventh-consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series event - extending its season record.

* Scott Dixon qualified second. It is his second front row start of the season and his 40th consecutive race starting inside the top-10.

* Marco Andretti qualified a season-best third, his best start since he qualified third at Mid-Ohio in 2008.

PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, Peak Performance Pole Award Winner): I am very happy to get my first pole on an oval. We have been right there the past few races, but I have had some funny things go wrong and a little bit of bad luck. I am very happy with the Verizon car today and our run was solid. We will have a long day tomorrow and the race will be tough on the short track.

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): It wasn't a bad day for us. We mostly concentrated on race setup this morning and we did qualifications setup at the second practice session. It is going to be a tough day tomorrow with a short track and the rain if it hits us. In qualifying we did very well sitting in P2 and the four laps average was so close to Will Power. We barely missed it. We will try to improve even more for tomorrow and hopefully get some points for the championship, but I am very happy with today.

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "We have to be happy to have the Venom car starting third. It'd be nice to have a pole trophy after today but that's my competitive side talking. We're in a good position for tomorrow and it can definitely be done from third. After our practice runs I did have hopes that we could take the pole. I think in choosing our set-up we missed something so we had a decent amount of understeer - end of the day I'm pretty happy considering the run I had."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "Great job for Team Penske and for Will winning his first oval pole. We were good enough in qualifying to start on the second row and I think the No. 3 Team Penske car should be good in the race. I am sure Ryan will do well in race trim tomorrow also. Now, we all have to work together as a team so that we can go out there tomorrow and accomplish our goal of getting the first win for Team Penske in Iowa."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "The balance was a touch conservative. If we're starting somewhere close to the front, I think we've got a shot. The car has been good in race trim."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "We had a solid qualifying result and most importantly we feel we have a good car for the race. I think we steered the car away a bit from our optimum qualifying setup. I think we're in good shape for tomorrow. Now we just need to see what happens with the weather, but we feel good about getting a solid result for Team Penske."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 27 Team Go Daddy): "I'm happy with the way qualifying went today. I was flat out the last two laps of the run, and I haven't been able to get flat all day. We still have some work to do, but I have a better understanding on what we need to do to improve the GoDaddy car for tomorrow's race."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Ethanol USA-Team IZOD): "We're not starting where we'd like to be, but the Ethanol USA-Team IZOD car is really good in race trim. We're going to be flying by some of these guys that are starting in front of us. As I've said before, these guys always give me great race cars and I'll take that any day over a top-notch qualifying car. It's just fun to be back here in Iowa with the Ethanol colors on the side of the car. You can really feel the support out here and I think that will really help us tomorrow."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): "Qualifying was not what we expected. I really don't have any idea what happened. I'm disappointed. The race car is good, but I'm really surprised by our lack of speed in qualifying. The 7-Eleven car was really good this morning and we didn't change anything, so I'm not sure what happened."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "Taking everything into consideration with the way we practiced, we could have qualified better but with everything that happened, it was an okay qualifying effort—a much better effort from the team than myself. The mistake in the last session didn't help us. The car is very good underneath me, I was on the bottom and everything was fine. We definitely could have trimmed it out much more but I'm not too worried about that because I know in the race, the car is good. That's the car we had all practice long and qualifying so we will most likely race with it. I'm very encouraged for the race because you can pass here if you have a good car and that's what we have."

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing): "This has been a tough weekend. Last year, we unfortunately didn't finish the race, and we haven't tested here, so we didn't come here with a lot of data. With cold tires, I had to lift on my first lap over the bump in Turn 1, which hurt my effort. The other laps were consistent, but I lost a lot of time in the first lap. We're just going to focus on the race tomorrow - good laps, clean pit stops - and we're going to fight hard for a good finish."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic): "Right now we are struggling. We spent both sessions trying to find more rear grip. We are going to keep working hard to improve the car."

DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "I was a little surprised honestly about the speed because I thought we would be quicker than that, but we've got a great racecar that we worked really hard today. The car was really stable, and our racecar is much better than the position we qualified. Everything we do is all about the races and we're well prepared and continue to work hard and the guys have made some brilliant pit stops this year, so we'll move up. This was a disappointing reflection of how hard the National Guard Panther Racing boys have been working, and we'll certainly take a look at this and move on. As I said in race trim the car was incredibly good, and we're all excited and we're going to try and break into victory lane. It's a long race, a physical race, and as always you can never count out the No. 4 National Guard car."

-source: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Sarah Fisher , Helio Castroneves , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Alex Lloyd , Will Power , Hideki Mutoh , Dale Coyne , A.J. Foyt , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Andretti Autosport , Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dragon Racing , Dale Coyne Racing