Newgarden Opens Iowa Weekend on Top

Josef Newgarden on Iowa Speedway front straight during IndyCar practice
Josef Newgarden set the fastest lap as the 2018 Iowa Corn 300 weekend began. | Photo: Aaron Durant / The Apex

Team Penske and Andretti Autosport drivers entered the Iowa Corn 300 as the favorites for success at the short oval and proved their speed in the hourlong practice session that kicked off the event.

Josef Newgarden and Will Power led the charge for Penske and Chevrolet with the fastest two laps in the Friday morning outing. At 183.711 mph, Newgarden’s chart-topping lap of the 0.894-mile oval placed the No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet 0.0259 seconds ahead of Power, who won the most recent oval round at Indianapolis.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, the most successful active Verizon IndyCar Series driver at Iowa with three wins, was third as the top Honda pilot. At 183.196 mph, the championship hopeful was a mere 0.0493 seconds off Newgarden’s pace on their respective fastest laps.

Andretti drivers Alexander Rossi and Zach Veach followed Hunter-Reay to complete the top five, giving Honda the majority share in the group which was covered by 0.1707 seconds. Rossi set the fastest no-tow lap — key for single-car qualifying where drafting is not an option.

Spencer Pigot in sixth and Simon Pagenaud in eighth were the only other Chevrolet drivers in the top 10, split by seventh-placed James Hinchcliffe who brought out a late yellow when he spun exiting pit lane.

Marco Andretti and Ed Jones slotted into the final two spots of the top 10, ensuring all of Penske and Andretti reached the group. Beyond Jones, the other half of Chip Ganassi Racing was just one spot behind in 11th with Scott Dixon’s best lap coming in at 0.3157 seconds back from Newgarden.

Matheus Leist crashed at Turn 2 early in the session, damaging his No. 4 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet and relegating it to the bottom of the 22-car field.

The grid will be set for Sunday’s 300-lap race at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday. Live television coverage of qualifying will be shown on NBCSN, beginning at the same time.