Power leads Iowa practice as Penske reaching peak performance

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Will Power led three Team Penske drivers in the top seven of practice Friday for the IndyCar Race Weekend at Iowa Speedway, the only session before qualifying and two races.

Power led overall with a top lap of 18.5729 seconds, 173.285 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet on the .894-mile oval. He seized the top spot from early leader and 2020 Iowa Pole Sitter Conor Daly, who ended up second at 173.239 in the No. 20 BitNile Chevrolet.

“The car feels really good,” Power said. “It felt good on a long run. We did make some changes, and at least we know what they do now. Whatever you run in quali, you’ve got to race. That’s a bit of a compromise there. I feel like we’ve got a good car and hope we can have a good weekend.”

Qualifying starts at 10:30 a.m. ET Saturday, with each driver’s first lap setting the grid for Saturday’s race and their second lap setting the lineup for Sunday’s race. Cars will be placed in impound after qualifying, with front wing and front-wing endplate angles and tire pressure changes among the limited adjustments allowed before the race Saturday.

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Scott McLaughlin was third at 173.083 in the No. 3 Freightliner Team Penske Chevrolet, giving the winningest team in IndyCar history two of the top three spots on the time sheet.

Reigning series champion Alex Palou was fourth at 172.764 in the No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda, with Pato O’Ward rounding out the top five at 172.687 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Series points leader Marcus Ericsson was sixth at 171.819 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, while two-time series champion Josef Newgarden was the third Team Penske driver in the top seven at 171.557 in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson returned to his comfort zone on ovals, ending up ninth at 170.795 mph in the No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

All 26 drivers in the field were forced to try to keep cool in scorching air temperatures in the mid-90s at the “Fastest Short Track on the Planet.”

“It’s fine,” Power said. “Tire deg (degradation) is more (in the heat), and it’s better for racing. It’s a really cool track. I really, really enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun.”

The 90-minute session was incident-free, with just two short caution periods for track inspection. The 26 drivers combined to turn 2,410 laps, with Palou leading the way with 119.

 

         

 

 

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