NEWTON, Iowa (July 11, 2014) -- Helio Castroneves led Team Penske to a solid qualifying performance at the Iowa Speedway short oval on Friday evening as rain showers forced a juggling of the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Qualifying, originally scheduled for 2:00 pm CT, was pushed back to 6:00 pm.
Castroneves had the third-fastest lap and will start inside the second row for Saturday night’s Iowa Corn Indy 300. Will Power clocked the ninth-best lap, while Juan Pablo Montoya posted the 19th-fastest run.
Castroneves – the pole award winner at Iowa in 2009 and last season – recorded a two-lap average of 185.685 mph in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet around the seven-eighths-of-a-mile oval.
“I was fine in Turn 4, but I was having (an) issue with Turn 1,” said Castroneves. “I have to give thanks to the Hitachi boys. They did a great job again. The car was really loose on the first lap, much like my teammates, but I really went for it on lap two. I just trusted the car and it paid off. If you are starting up front it is not that bad.”
Power was clocked at 184.683 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet and will start inside the fifth row.
“I was a little too loose coming to the green (flag) and I had a big moment on that lap,” stated Power. “I was wondering if the Verizon Chevy was going to stick for me. I made some adjustments and the second lap was not bad. It’s as good as I think we can expect. It’s nice to start in the top 10.”
Juan Pablo Montoya, who won last weekend at Pocono Raceway and had the fastest lap in the second Friday practice session, struggled in qualifying and will start 19th after a two-lap average of 182.317 mph in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.
“I just made some changes and I think we went a little far,” said Montoya. “We have been struggling a little bit with the unpredictability of the car. The PPG Chevy has been pretty good, we just tried a little (too) hard. I went for it and it just wasn’t there. It stepped out and I thought ‘oh this is going to hurt’ and I was happy it came back, to be honest.”
All three Team Penske drivers are contending for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship heading into the 12th race of the 18-race 2014 season. Castroneves and Power are tied for the series points lead, while Montoya is in fourth place, just 55 points behind his teammates.
“It’s nice to see all the Team Penske Chevys at the top of the standings,” said Castroneves. “The one goal for all of us is to bring Roger Penske a championship.”
The NBC Sports Network broadcast of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 will begin Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.