Trevor Bayne edges Brad Keselowski for Iowa Nationwide pole

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A buzzer-beater lap from Roush Fenway Racing’s Trevor Bayne enabled him to take the pole position for tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.

With less than one minute to go in the final round of qualifying, Sprint Cup regular Brad Keselowski took the provisional pole from Bayne with a lap of 23.577 seconds around the 7/8-mile oval.

But there was just enough time for Bayne to take one last shot and he made it count.

As time ran out, the former Daytona 500 champion completed a hot lap of 23.558 seconds to secure his first Nationwide Series pole of the season and the seventh of his career.

“We’ve really been working on our short-run speed,” Bayne told ESPN. “We really feel that qualifying and short-runs are where we’ve struggled the most this year in getting that track position. We didn’t make it to the final round last time we came here to Iowa and I’ve had a pole here before, so I kinda know how to qualify here but we’ve struggled with that short run speed.

“So coming back, we came with a totally different package and Chad and these guys have found some speed in this car. We’ve been in the Top 3 lap times in practices and sometimes that speed can fool you, so going into qualifying, I wasn’t really sure. But somehow we put together three pretty good runs and we were able to get the pole.”

But while Bayne appears to have the pace needed to contend, he and the rest of the field will have to deal with different conditions come race time this evening.

“Everything changes at night here,” said Keselowski. “You take the tape off the front end and the car loses a little bit of downforce, so that’s a big change. The track is going to gain grip when it gets to nighttime, but it’s kind of offset by the downforce change. Those are things you just gotta battle through as a NASCAR driver.”

Regan Smith and Brian Scott will make up the second row on tonight’s grid, followed by Michael McDowell and Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott in Row 3.

Bayne, Smith, Scott, and Indianapolis winner Ty Dillon will compete for the final $100,000 Dash4Cash prize as well. However, Dillon was unable to make the final round of qualifying and will be starting 15th.

Green flag for tonight’s 250-lap race at Iowa is scheduled for shortly after 8 p.m. ET.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT IOWA – STARTING LINEUP
U.S. Cellular 250

1. 6-Trevor Bayne
2. 22-Brad Keselowski
3. 7-Regan Smith
4. 2-Brian Scott
5. 20-Michael McDowell
6. 9-Chase Elliott
7. 54-Sam Hornish Jr.
8. 11-Elliott Sadler
9. 60-Chris Buescher
10. 5-Josh Berry
11. 16-Ryan Reed
12. 31-Chase Pistone
13. 62-Brendan Gaughan
14. 42-Dylan Kwasniewski
15. 3-Ty Dillon
16. 01-Landon Cassill
17. 43-Dakoda Armstrong
18. 99-James Buescher
19. 29-Kenny Wallace
20. 39-Ryan Sieg
21. 19-Mike Bliss
22. 93-Kevin Swindell
23. 84-Chad Boat
24. 44-Hal Martin
25. 40-Matt Dibenedetto
26. 28-J.J. Yeley
27. 4-Jeffrey Earnhardt
28. 51-Jeremy Clements
29. 14-Eric McClure
30. 17-Tanner Berryhill
31. 55-Jamie Dick
32. 10-Blake Koch
33. 52-Joey Gase
34. 87-Josh Reaume
35. 89-Morgan Shepherd
36. 70-Derrike Cope
37. 72-John Jackson
38. 23-Carl Long
39. 46-Matt Frahm
40. 93-Mike Harmon

Indy Lights: Kyle Kirkwood joins Andretti Autosport

Road to Indy
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One of the Road to Indy’s most talented young drivers will climb another step up the development system ladder this season.

Kyle Kirkwood, the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion, has signed a contract to race for Andretti Autosport in the 2020 Indy Lights season. Kirkwood will drive the No. 28 car for the reigning championship team.

A native of Jupiter, Florida, 21-year-old Kirkwood has been incredibly successful in junior formulas over the last few years. He won the F4 US Championship 2017 and won both the F3 Americas and USF2000 titles in 2018.

Driving for RP Motorsport Racing, Kirkwood won 9 of 16 races in his maiden Indy Pro 2000 season last year, allowing him to win his fourth championship in three years and earn the Road to Indy scholarship.

“We are very excited about the addition of Kyle to our Indy Lights program,” Andretti Autosport CEO and Chairman Michael Andretti said. “We’ve followed Kyle’s career from when he started in 2018 with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and have been impressed with his success in every race that led to his Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. As a championship-caliber team, Kyle displays the desire and talent that we look for in our drivers and are excited to see him hit the track for the 2020 Indy Lights season.”

Kirkwood previously drove for Andretti in a two-day test session at Sebring International Raceway in December. He will make his official debut for the team in the season-opening doubleheader at St. Petersburg on March 14-15.

“I am ecstatic that I can now say I am competing in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this season,” Kirkwood said. “They have established a winning program in Indy Lights and we plan on carrying that reputation throughout 2020.

“We are a fantastic match for each other and our Sebring test in December proved that.”

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