Will Power moved one step closer to tieing Mario Andretti’s all-time pole record with pole positions for races one and two in Iowa.
The Australian, who was the second last driver to go out on track, managed to break into the 178s on both of his runs earning him his 65th and 66th pole positions.
Qualifying at Iowa would set the grid for not one but two races, with the drivers’ first laps counting for the grid for race one whilst their second laps would count for race two with the traditional fast six, fast 12 and the grouped Qualifying all being put aside for this weekend’s events.
With cars being sent out in order of championship positions, Ed Carpenter, back in the cockpit for the first time since May’s Indy 500, would go out first whilst championship leader Marcus Ericsson would go last, with only 26 starters taking the green flag as the number 11 AJ Foyt machine was once again absent.
Carpenter’s two runs were 173.406 and 174.214, combining for an average speed of 173.809, massively quicker than Dalton Kellett, who struggled with the balance of his number four car and could only manage an average speed of 172.338, whilst Kyle Kirkwood managed an average speed of 173.243 slotting himself between his teammate and Carpenter.
Jimmie Johnson managed to jump to the front with his two runs that averaged a speed of 175.508 mph, whilst Devlin DeFrancesco had a poor pair of runs after suffering from understeer, with Callum Ilott only managing a 173.556, languishing down near the tail end of the back.
Jack Harvey gave the Hy-vee employees on hand at Iowa something to be happy about as he became the first driver to break into the 176s, bumping Johnson off provisional pole for a short period as veteran Takuma Sato jumped to the front with a 176.921 on his two runs.
David Malukas put himself on provisional pole for race one with a 176.932, but his second lap was only good enough for fourth provisionally as the track continued to get faster.
Iowa specialist Conor Daly moved into provisional pole for both races with a pair of 177s, but the Noblesville native wasn’t satisfied with his pair of laps, believing he could go quicker, and with faster cars yet to come out, it seemed that a repeat of his 2019 heroics was not on the cards.
Despite a poor first run, Colton Herta improved on his second run and snatched provisional pole for race two with a 177.525, just over three tenths quicker than Daly.
Pato O’Ward’s two qualifying efforts were a mixed bag as although the Mexican managed the provisionally second fastest time in race one, a series of slides on his second run put him in sixth.
Toronto race winner Scott Dixon had a sluggish Qualifying with provisionally tenth in race one and a lowly 14th in race two as the Kiwi struggled for pace.
But the man who went into Qualifying as the red hot favourite Josef Newgarden briefly blew everyone out of the water, taking provisional pole for races one and two with a pair of 177mph runs.
However, Newgarden’s joy was short-lived as Power produced a pair of blindly fast 178mph runs to snatch both poles off his younger teammate as Ericsson went out to start his laps.
With Ericsson’s runs only being good enough for 12th and 15th, Power held on pole for both races, with Newgarden joining the Australian on the front row for both races.
Daly would line up on row two for races one and two, with Malukas starting on his outside for race one and Herta on his inside for race two. McLaughlin would start both races on row three, with O’Ward joining him for race one and Sato for race two. Harvey got a pair of row four starting slots on his sponsor’s home track, while Rinus Veekay rebounded after a poor Toronto Qualifying to put himself in the top 10 for both races.
Shortly afterwards, in a pre-race press conference which Motorlat attended, Power speculated that traffic and tyre degradation would be a major factor in both races.
“You’ll be in traffic 15 laps in, so you’ll spend the whole race in traffic. It’s short track racing, so it’s (all) about how you can make the car work in traffic, so that is simply the key to winning this race.”
“The tyre deg is significant, big drop off and the fact it’s extremely hot will make the tyres deg. So it’s going to play a huge part in the race, theirs going to be guys who have nothing to lose who will pit early and gain massive amounts of time and track positions, so you’ve got to weather that storm the best you can, depending where your championship contenders are.”