Helio Castroneves earns pole for Iowa Corn 300 (VIDEO)


A week after starting last at Milwaukee, Helio Castroneves earned his third Verizon P1 Award of 2015, claiming it for the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway with an average speed of 183.480 mph.

Team Penske’s monopoly on the pole position took a hiatus at Milwaukee, but Castroneves’ pole – his first at Iowa – gives Penske its 11th of the year.

“The good news is my guys showed up on time for qualifying today,” Castroneves told the IndyCar Radio Network. “We put this baby right on the No. 1 spot, which is really important. Last week we proved we can come from the back when you have a good car. We have a good car here, so we plan to stay at the front.”

Castroneves also earned the pole at Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park.

Starting next to Castroneves will be fellow Brazilian Tony Kanaan, who recorded an average speed of 183.125 with his No. 10 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Filling out the top five is Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud as Penske’s Will Power qualified sixth.

The highest non-Penske or Ganassi driver is Josef Newgarden. The pole-winner at Milwaukee will start seventh based on his average speed of 181.367 mph.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending Iowa race winner will roll off ninth behind Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti.

The only accident in qualifying came when Sebastien Bourdais, the winner at Milwaukee, spun out of Turn 2. He hit the outside wall with his rear wing before driving away under his own power. Bourdais will start last.

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, aero kit-engine, and speed:

1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 183.480
2. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 183.125
3. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 182.707
4. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 182.357
5. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 181.627
6. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 181.625
7. (67) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 181.367
8. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 181.081
9. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 180.843
10. (8) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 180.659
11. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 180.401
12. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 180.080
13. (4) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 179.898
14. (7) James Jakes, Honda, 178.997
15. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 178.433
16. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 177.972
17. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 177.857
18. (25) Justin Wilson, Honda, 177.824
19. (5) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 176.907
20. (19) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 176.256
21. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 176.255
22. (18) Pippa Mann, Honda, 175.812
23. (98) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 175.668
24. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, no speed

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds