Newgarden paces opening Iowa practice

Image by IMS Photo

Newgarden paces opening Iowa practice


Newgarden paces opening Iowa practice


The teams that recently tested at Iowa Speedway ruled Saturday’s opening practice period as Team Penske, Andretti Autosport and Ed Carpenter Racing showed the quick way around the 0.894-mile oval.

Josef Newgarden, a three-time winner this season coming off his dominating drive at Road America, edged teammate Will Power for fastest lap during the 60-minute session.

Newgarden ran 183.711mph (17.5188 seconds) in his Hitachi Chevy — just nipping Power’s best of 183.440mph (17.5447 seconds) in the Verizon Chevy.

“I think us testing here is a benefit. You would think testing is automatically always a benefit, but I think it’s more important this year just because it’s a new car, and Iowa is its own animal,” said Newgarden. “Even having been to Phoenix and other short ovals, I don’t think a lot of that really applies here because Iowa is just crazy unique. It’s a lot bumpier, very different from a lane usage standpoint. The banking is different, the shape, the whole thing. So Iowa needs its own thing, and I think testing helped us a lot, so our car seems pretty fast to start.

“It’s a ton of fun. This new car has been a blast to drive. I think you can get a little bit more violent with it, in a good way, in that if the car starts reacting aggressively, you’re sliding all over the place. It gives you a lot of opportunity to save it, and I also think it invites you to drive the car a lot more sideways, which is fun for us as drivers and I think visually it looks better, so hopefully that translates and you see a little bit on the on-board cameras, and I hope that translates to the race.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, a three-time winner of the Iowa Corn 300, was right on top of the Penske teammates with a lap of 183.19mph (17.5681 seconds) in the DHL Honda.

Hunter-Reay’s teammates, Alexander Rossi and Zach Veach, were also in the hunt with speeds of 182.223mph in the NAPA Honda and 181.938mph in the Relay Group 1001 Honda, good for fourth and fifth respectively. And Spencer Pigot was sixth quickest at 181.083 mph in ECR’s Fuzzy’s Chevy.

Rookie Matheus Leist crashed coming off Turn 2 early in the session but his ABC Supply Chevy only suffered suspension damage to one corner and will be ready for qualifications.

James Hinchcliffe also spun in Turn 2 in his Arrow Honda but didn’t hit anything and managed to post the seventh-best speed in the process.

UP NEXT: Qualifying at 3:30 p.m. ET (2:30 CT).