IndyCar

Will Power earns 52nd career IndyCar pole to start No. 1 at Iowa

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Even though he won the Indianapolis 500 in May, Will Power needed a big lift after DNFs in the last two Verizon IndyCar races (at Texas Motor Speedway and Road America).

Power got that in Saturday’s qualifying, taking the pole position for Sunday’s Iowa Corn 300 (2:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at Iowa Speedway with an average speed of 182.391 mph.

“I had to lift late in the corner, a little bit loose in one and two,” Power told the INDYCAR Radio Network. “That was about all I had.”

It’s Power’s 52nd career IndyCar pole and his fourth at Iowa, including his second straight.

“I love this place, it’s a real tough boring little oval,” Power said. “I’ve been trying to win this one for so long. I’m obviously starting the race in a good spot.”

Power then added with a chuckle, “It’s a big year for me if I win the Indianapolis 500 and at Iowa. If I was looking at a list of things to do, that would almost top the list.”

Power led a Team Penske onslaught, as Josef Newgarden (181.160 mph) qualified No. 2 and Simon Pagenaud (180.313 mph) will start Sunday’s race from the No. 4 spot.

“We had a real good lap,” Newgarden said. “Just missed it. Starting on the front row is a good job for Team Penske.”

Andretti Autosport grabbed the third and fifth positions.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has won three times at Iowa Speedway, qualified third (180.681 mph).

Alexander Rossi (179.801 mph) qualified fifth, while points leader Scott Dixon (179.526 mph) – who has never won at Iowa in 11 starts – qualified sixth.

Canadian rookie Robert Wickens (178.883 mph) will start seventh.

“I’m pretty happy,” Wickens told the INDYCAR Radio Network. “I was worried that I wouldn’t even crack the top-10.”

Rounding out the top 10 qualifiers were Ed Jones (178.720 mph), Ed Carpenter (178.717), Takuma Sato (178.708).

Eleventh through 20th were James Hinchcliffe (178.478), Graham Rahal (178.410), Tony Kanaan (178.008), Zach Veach (177.809), Sebastien Bourdais (177.681), Gabby Chaves (176.466), Charlie Kimball (176.245), Spencer Pigot (175.210), Marco Andretti (174.548) and Zachary Claman De Melo (174.339).

Wrapping up the 22-car field were Max Chilton (173.449) in 21st and Matheus Leist (168.724) in 22nd.

There was one near-miss in Turns 3 and 4 when James Hinchcliffe almost lost control of his car.

“Not ideal on a qualifying effort, for sure,” Hinchcliffe told the IndyCar Radio Network. “It caught me a little bit coming off Turn 4. I had to keep my foot in it and hope I could hold on.”

Results are below.

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Cooper Webb leaps from obscurity to Supercross lead

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Cooper Webb could not even locate the radar tower before the 2019 season began – let alone expect to see his number dead center in the radar screen.

His ascent to 450 competition came with little fanfare. Finishing 13th in Supercross in 2017 and then eighth in Motocross, Webb did not turn many heads as a rookie. Last year was more of the same.

Through Round 7 at Arlington, Webb failed to record a single top five. That elusive result would come the following week at Tampa with a fourth-place finish. Two weeks later, he stood on the podium at Daytona for the only the second time in his Supercross 450s career. But at season’s end, Webb was only ninth in the standings in both Supercross and Motocross.

No one expected much from him when Anaheim rolled around this year.

Webb started the season much the same as he ended 2018. A fifth-place finish in Anaheim I in muddy and equalizing conditions was followed by a modest 10th at Glendale, but the rider from North Carolina believed in himself.

In professional racing, nothing is more difficult than winning the first race. Webb’s first taste of victory came in Heat 1 of the Triple Crown at Anaheim II. Everyone remained skeptical – it was only one heat race after all. The skepticism turned to interest when he won Heat 2. Then Webb finished third in Heat 3 to take the overall victory. It was his first win in the 450 class.

That was all it took to unleash his potential. Webb won the following week in Oakland and then again two weeks later in Minneapolis.

The Supercross riders left Minnesota and headed straight down Interstate 35 to Arlington with four of them separated by two points. All eyes were focused on Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin – and, oh yeah Webb who sat in second.

Someone was likely to stumble in Arlington and the odds on favorite to do so was Webb. That seemed to be confirmed once the feature started. While the three more experienced riders led by Tomac scooted away from the field, Webb was mired outside the top five for the first six lap.

It was Tomac who tripped and fell, however. Webb passed the stricken rider and surged to fifth on Lap 7. He was in fourth by Lap 10 and third on Lap 16.  As Webb and teammate Musquin battled for the second, they slowly reeled in the leader Roczen. Once Webb broke free on the conflict with the runner-up position firmly his, he could see the red plate on Roczen’s Honda like a cape being waved in front of a bull.

Webb charged through the final six laps getting closer and closer until he edged Roczen for the closest finish in Supercross history. It was Webb’s fourth victory of the season, coming only four weeks after he scored his first career win.

Relive the final laps in the video posted above.

As incredible as Webb’s rise to the points lead is, it has been done before.

Last year Jason Anderson seemingly came out of nowhere to lead the standings after Round 2. Anderson held the advantage for the remainder of the year, while Webb has been part of a game of hot potato in which no one seems to want to don the red plate for more than a week.

The pressure continues to mount. Webb now has a two-point advantage over Roczen, who is the only rider to sweep the top five this season.

Webb’s advantage over third is a mere four points, while Musquin has a current five-race streak of podium finishes to his credit.

Tomac’s trouble in Texas serves as a cautionary tale that a single loss of focus can be devastating and Webb still lacks the seat time of his three principal rivals, but last week’s incredible come-from-behind victory is showing that Webb is riding above experience level.

Follow the complete Supercross and Motocross seasons on NBC Sports, Gold.