Power On IndyCar Pole At Iowa

Will Power crosses the start/finish line during practice for the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. [Chris Jones Photo]

Will Power crosses the start/finish line during practice for the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. [Chris Jones Photo]

by Paul Gohde

NEWTON, Iowa – It was almost a dramatic qualifying story in the Verizon IndyCar Series at Iowa Speedway Saturday. Almost.

After crashing his Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet in final practice, JR Hildebrand took his repaired Ed Carpenter Racing mount into qualifying hoping for the best. But as it turned out his run was second-best, as Team Penske’s Will Power snatched the Iowa Corn 300 pole from Hildebrand on the final run of the day.

“I was a little worried,” Power smiled, “going out last with JR sitting on the pole. I knew our car was very good, and when I saw Helio (his Penske teammate, Castroneves) go out on that final run and grab third fastest, I thought we’d be ok.”

And with everyone watching that final run, the Aussie was ok, posting a two-lap average speed of 185.210 mph, fully 1.4 mph faster than the runner-up (183.811), and grabbing the 48th pole of his Indy car career.

And what about that run in Hildebrand’s repaired machine? “I felt confident that everything would be what we wanted it to be. But I did have another ‘moment’ in the same spot as in practice,” noted the Californian who is in his eighth Indy car season, but just his third as a full-time driver. “I was a bit disappointed when Will posted that speed: it’s nice to start up front but it’s how the car is on long (race) stints that’s important.”

Castroneves (183.712) is joined in row two by Hildebrand’s team owner Ed Carpenter who was quick in practice and backed it up with a 183.503 as Chevrolets filled the first two rows, with Hondas bunched in rows 3-5.

Josef Newgarden, the 2016 Iowa winner managed only a 16th fastest run, slowest among the Penske foursome.

Carlos Munoz spun the ABC Supply Chevrolet on his qualifying run and damaged the rear wing assembly. He failed to post a qualifying time and will start 21st.

Marco Andretti was the slowest (171.710) of those who posted a qualifying lap due to an issue on his final lap and will start 20th.

“We came here to put the car on the front row and we did that. I’m happy we recovered from this morning,” explained a happy, but disappointed Hildebrand. And Power sat next to him, smiling and hoping to give the Penske team its first win at Iowa on Sunday.

Iowa Corn 300 qualifying results
NEWTON, Iowa – Qualifying Saturday for the Iowa Corn 300 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, and speed:
1. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 185.210
2. (21) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 183.811
3. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 183.712
4. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 183.503
5. (26) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 182.653
6. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 182.454
7. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 182.394
8. (19) Ed Jones, Dallara-Honda, 182.290
9. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 181.187
10. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 181.138
11. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy, 181.137
12. (98) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Honda, 181.136
13. (8) Max Chilton, Dallara-Honda, 180.927
14. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 180.863
15. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 180.716
16. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 180.343
17. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 180.302
18. (18) Esteban Gutierrez, Dallara-Honda, 179.389
19. (4) Conor Daly, Dallara-Chevy, 178.613
20. (27) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 171.710
21. (14) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Chevy, no speed

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”