Pagenaud to start from pole for 2nd straight race


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NEWTON, Iowa — Simon Pagenaud will start first in Saturday’s IndyCar race at Iowa Speedway after winning the pole for the second week in a row.

Pagenaud, who won in Toronto last weekend starting from the front row, posted an average speed of 180.073 mph to capture his third pole of 2019 and 13th overall. It was also Team Penske’s fifth straight qualifying win in Newton, as the team swept the top three spots with Will Power second and series leader Josef Newgarden third.

“I’m definitely happy to be ahead of my teammates,” Pagenaud said. “Josef is my competition this year, so I’ve got to grab any points I can get. Be aggressive, show authority.”

Takuma Sato qualified fourth, defending Iowa champion James Hinchcliffe was fifth, and Alexander Rossi, just four points behind Newgarden, will round out the third row.

The pole winner has never won an IndyCar race at Iowa’s 0.875-mile oval in 12 tries.

Pagenaud moved 22 points closer to Newgarden after leading 80 of 85 laps in a dominant win in Toronto last weekend. Pagenaud and the No. 22 Chevrolet now trail Newgarden by just 39 points and Rossi by 35 heading into Saturday night’s race.

“I’ve been saying that I want to live in the moment this year,” Pagenaud said. “Do it step by step and just be in the moment as much as I can, and it’s working. So just now, I’m at the level I’ve always wanted to be in.”

Newgarden wasn’t happy Friday despite qualifying third in a performance that he flatly said “wasn’t good enough.”

He has had plenty of success at Iowa though — including one of the most dominant runs in recent memory. He led 282 of 300 laps, a record that still stands, to win in Newton three years ago for Ed Carpenter Racing. Newgarden was the third-fastest in qualifying despite having issues coming through the opening turn.

“[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.”

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