Carlin’s Conor Daly bounced back from a hard crash in Road America to claim his first ever pole position for the first race of the double-header at Iowa Speedway, and Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden narrowly claimed pole position for the second race on Saturday.
Daly laid down a blistering pace for both laps of the qualifying session, putting in early times of 18.3711 and 18.3951 seconds which earned him pole in one race and a third place start in race two.
Daly drives for Ed Carpenter Racing for the season’s road courses, but drives for Carlin on the ovals due to Ed Carpenter driving his own car on the ovals. Daly and Carlin both earned their first ever IndyCar pole with the strong effort by the 28-year-old Indianapolis native.
Newgarden scored his third pole of the season by setting a second lap time of 18.3559 second and an average speed of 175.333 mph.
The lineups for both races were set in a single qualifying session due to a unique format implemented to give the teams and drivers a more lenient schedule on the double-header weekend.
Each driver had the track to himself for a single run of two consecutive laps. Instead of taking the average time of the two laps, the first lap set the grid for the first race tonight and the second lap set the lineup for the second race.
As has been the case in previous rounds this year, the Aeroscreen slowed the cars down from the speeds they had achieved the past few years. Newgarden’s fastest pole speed was considerably off the pace on the 7/8-mile oval and only would have earned him a 12th place starting spot last year.
Newgarden and Team Penske team-mate Will Power will start second and third for the first race, while Power and Daly put in a good enough second lap to start second and third for the second race.
Alexander Rossi was one of the multiple drivers that put in a quick first lap, but lost considerable time on the second, leading to a widely different starting positions for the two days.
Simon Pagenaud will start from the back of the field in both races, as he suffered fuel pressure issues and did not take part in qualifying.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan team-mates Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato struggled with pace throughout practice and again struggled during qualifying. Both drivers will start near the back of the pack for both races and hope that the cooler evening temperatures will help their cars power to the front.
The double-header races take place Friday and Saturday night from the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway, with the green flag dropping at 21:00 EDT (2:00 BST) on Friday and 20:30 EDT (1:30 BST) on Saturday.