Simon Pagenaud wins pole position for Iowa 300

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After winning the Honda Indy Toronto from the pole last weekend, Simon Pagenaud won the pole position for the Iowa 300 Friday afternoon with an average two-lap speed of 180.073 mph around the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway.

The pole is the third of the season for the Frenchman, who also won the Indianapolis 500 from the pole in May.

“Awesome job form the team. The car was really good in quali,” Pagenaud told NBC Sports following his pole run. “It’s really tough. It’s 135 degrees on the racetrack, so to get the balance right is really complicated. Ben Bretzman [Pagenaud’s Crew Chief] did a great job setting it up.

“I just focused on my stuff and just really sent it, quite frankly. It was the most intense two laps I’ve ever lived.”

 

Teammate Will Power will start alongside Pagenaud in Row 1, qualifying second-fastest with an average speed of 179.589 mph. Josef Newgarden completed the Penske 1-2-3 sweep by qualifying third with an average speed of 179.449 mph.

Takuma Sato (179.449 mph) qualified fourth-fastest, while defending Iowa 300 winner James Hinchcliffe (176.200 mph) qualified fifth.

Alexander Rossi (176.057 mph) qualified sixth while Graham Rahal (175.857 mph), Scott Dixon (175.725 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (175.725 mph), and Marcus Ericsson (175.578 mph) qualified seventh through 10th.

Live coverage of the Iowa 300 begins tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Click here for full qualifying results 

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Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”