NEWTON, Iowa – Two of the Team Penske trio of NTT IndyCar Series drivers were the fastest in Saturday afternoon’s practice for Saturday night’s second race of the Iowa IndyCar 250s at Iowa Speedway.
Josef Newgarden, who will start on the pole after having fastest second lap during qualifying Friday, was the fastest at 170.199 mph in the No. 1 Chevrolet. That was nearly two mph faster than Friday night’s race winner Simon Pagenaud’s 168.515 mph in the No. 22 Menard’s Chevrolet.
NTT IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon was third in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda at 168.156 mph. Tony Kanaan, who is starting his final race at Iowa Speedway, was fourth in at 167.337 mph in the No. 14 Bryant Heating and Cooling Chevrolet for A.J. Foyt.
Takuma Sato rounded out the top five at 166.869 mph in the No. 30 Mi-Jack Chevrolet.
Thirty-six minutes into the one-hour session, Alexander Rossi’s No. 27 AutoNation Honda was taken back to the garage with a wiring problem.
Rinus VeeKay is using a backup car after a crash in Friday’s race damaged the aeroscreen. The cars for Colton Herta and Will Power also incurred significant damage in Friday night’s race, but were repaired in time for practice.
All three crews got extra time by IndyCar to work on their cars. Graham Rahal’s car was allowed extra time to change its livery. It will be sponsored by Hy-Vee tonight.
Practice was brought to a halt at about the halfway mark when Scott Dixon’s Honda brushed the wall. It white-walled the tires, but didn’t appear to damage the suspension.
Pagenaud won Friday’s race race after starting last in the 23-car field when his engine had a fuel-pressure issue during qualifying on Friday, preventing him from turning a lap. He will also start last in the 23-car field Saturday night.
Pagenaud’s crew came up with an outstanding two-stop strategy that helped the driver win Friday’s race. Newgarden thought he had the fastest car in the field, but the caution laps from the Power crash and then the Herta-VeeKay crash on the restart foiled his strategy to win the race.
Newgarden led 68 laps in the race and finished fifth.
“The caution certainly was the nail in the coffin,” Newgarden said Friday night. “Without sounding too over-confident, I think we had the car to beat tonight, hands-down. So, it’s frustrating.
“I’ve got to be honest, I’m so angry about the way that this all transpired. Some of it is just bad luck. The yellow coming out when it came out, you can’t predict that stuff. You weigh out the pros and cons when you’re trying to go long, when you’re trying to go short on your pit windows. And, I can’t fault my guys. I think they did a great job. I had a rocket ship. I mean, I had a car above, in my opinion. I’m sad that we weren’t able to put our car in victory lane because I felt like we had that potential. But, like I said, I’m very proud of my guys. They always do a great job for me. I think it’s just chalked up to bad luck tonight. I’ve got to try and make-up for it Saturday.”
Newgarden has a head-start on Saturday’s race by starting on the pole and having the fastest speed in Saturday’s practice.
“All you can do is go forward,” Newgarden said. “This is racing. Some days the racing gods shine down on you and some days they don’t. And Friday they definitely didn’t, but that’s how it works. You’ve got to take the good days when you get them and accept the bad days when you have them.
“We’ll try again Saturday and try to get ‘em.”