Simon Pagenaud, driver of the neon yellow No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevy, has achieved some seriously impressive things this season. The French native just won his 5th pole for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season. It is also the 5th IndyCar pole for Team Penske at Iowa Speedway as well as the team’s 500th pole overall. And it comes in their 50th anniversary year… pretty incredible if you ask me. This is the first pole for Pagenaud at Iowa, and his second at an oval. The first oval pole came in 2015 for the driver, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. Today’s achievement is the 7th career pole for Pagenaud.
Maybe one of the coolest “stats” about this Verizon P1 Award is this: when Pagenaud leads the field to green tomorrow afternoon, it will be the 6th time he does so, out of 11 races this year. More than half the season. Remember that while he has qualified P1 five times in 2015 (Barber, Indy GP, Belle Isle races 1 & 2, and now Iowa), he has had a P1 starting position six times due to his teammate Will Power winning the pole in St. Petersburg, FL and not being able to contend due to illness, which moved Pagenaud from the outside of Row 1, to the inside.
Earlier today, I discussed how no one has ever lead the field to both green and checkered at any of the Iowa IndyCar races. I still think that Tony Kanaan will be a huge contender tomorrow, and I can also see Newgarden making a run for victory (he qualified P2 and has finished P2 the past 2 years at Iowa). But given the fact that Pagenaud has won from the pole twice this year, first at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and then at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, we have a reasonably good chance to witness history tomorrow in Newton, IA.
Pagenaud now extends his Championship points lead to 75 points thanks to the 1 point he earned for today’s pole. Castroneves, Power, Dixon and Newgarden fall in line behind him to make up the Top 5 fighting for the Astor Cup as of right now. But lest we forget – this is IndyCar. There is no time for comfort or sympathy. Simon said it best:
“Do I feel bad (for my teammates) if I’m winning? No, I feel great! No, I don’t feel bad… I think I just keep going.”
Pagenaud understands both ends of the racing spectrum. His 2015 and 2016 seasons couldn’t be more opposing to one another. He realizes that things can change in the blink of an eye. He’s enjoying the success of the No. 22 team, as he should… be don’t be fooled, he is anything but complacent.
Verizon IndyCar Series track times for the Iowa Corn 300:
Saturday, July 9:
Practice #1 – 10:00 a.m. CT/11:00 a.m. ET
Quals – 2:00 p.m. CT/3:00 p.m. ET
Practice #2 – 6:15 p.m. CT/7:15 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 10:
Systems Check – 1:00 p.m. CT/2:00 p.m. ET
Iowa Corn 300 Race – 4:00 p.m. CT/5:00 p.m. E.T.
The Iowa Corn 300 Qualifying and Race will be broadcast live on NBCSN. Both Practice sessions will be livestreamed via IndyCar. All links to livestream plus information on radio coverage is available here.