Simon Pagenaud leads Team Penske sweep in Iowa

Simon Pagenaud has been on a hot streak ever since winning on the streets of Toronto one week ago. 

Now with the series transitioning to ovals for the first time since June 8, Pagenaud was eager to keep the momentum going. With a combined time of 35.7455 seconds, Pagenaud scored his second consecutive IndyCar P1 award leading a Team Penske sweep of the first three positions. 

“You make one mistake (and) you can find yourself a lap behind (the leader),” Pagenaud said. “It’s important to stay on top of your game the whole time. It’s also important not to freak out. When the (car’s) balance goes away, sometimes you tend to get stressed out and gain a sense of urgency. That’s when you make more mistakes.”

With this pole it marks the fifth consecutive time that a Team Penske car has won the pole at the 0.894 mile oval. Starting alongside the Frenchman on the front row is Penske teammate Will Power, with a time of 35.8418 Power looks to rebound after a lackluster weekend in Toronto. 

“Sometimes people have a great car and they just smoke everyone, put everyone a lap down.” Power said "I think as a team, our cars are all pretty similar. It still doesn't matter. Depends how tire degradation goes, all that sort of thing, where you run, how the traffic is.”

Josef Newgarden will start Saturday’s race from the third position after logging a combined lap time of 35.8699 seconds. Newgarden will look to extend his four point advantage over points rival Alexander Rossi.

“Turn 1 was probably the tough one for us. We didn't have the balance that we needed through there.” Newgarden said  “But the car was good. I think the Hitachi car has been fast. Chevy has done a tremendous job. We should have what we need, I think, for tomorrow.”

Takuma Sato and defending race winner James Hinchcliffe will complete the top five. 

Rossi, fresh off his podium finish in Toronto will line up seventh, followed by Graham Rahal in eighth. 

Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay and rookie Marcus Ericsson round out the top five starters. 

A few other notable qualifiers, Felix Rosenqvist will start 15thcome Saturday. Ed Carpenter and Marco Andretti will start near the back as well in 17thand 18th. Finally, Sebastian Bourdais will roll off the grid 21st. 

The green flag for the Iowa 300 will drop Saturday at 7:10 p.m., Team Penske has only one recorded victory coming in 2017 with Helio Castroneves. They will look to make it two wins in a row on the season in addition to having swept both prior oval tracks this season (Indy & Texas). 

James Hinchcliffe will look to score his first win of the 2019 season, while also defending his crown at Iowa.