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Sato takes maiden series pole at Iowa

Takuma Sato clinched his first IndyCar pole position with a blistering two-lap average of 180.375mph, with only Danica Patrick coming close and also topping the 180mph mark to claim second.
KV Racing Technology's Takuma Sato took pole position for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 race at Iowa Speedway with a stunningly fast performance in qualifying.

Sato was the only driver to put in two laps both of which were over 180mph, for an unbeatable two-lap average speed of 180.375mph. The only person to come close was Danica Patrick, who ran perhaps the best line of anyone in the entire session to post an average speed of 180.210mph. She said the car could have been even faster, and credited the changes that the Andretti Autosport team had made to the car since the first practice session earlier in the day.

Sato's team mate Tony Kanaan was the only other person to top 180mph in either of his laps, but his overall average was just short of that benchmark at 179.833mph. Kanaan was the second qualifier of the day and held the top spot for over half of the session. Unfortunately the final KV team mate EJ Viso was no where near this mark and will start from 19th place on the grid.

JR Hildebrand put up an average speed of 179.569mph on the board to take fourth place and line up alongside Kanaan on the grid for tomorrow's race, as he seeks to rebound from a disappointing early exit at Milwaukee that was uncomfortably reminiscent to his turn 4 mistake that cost him the Indianapolis 500 victory in May.

That meant that the grid made for a very interesting and atypical sight, with no Ganassi or Penske cars on the front two rows. The best of the Penskes was Will Power, who claimed fifth position on the starting grid alongside the fastest Ganassi, Power's chief title rival Dario Franchitti. The two were split by just 0.0001s in their qualifying time.

Dario said that he had been struggling with both front and rear end grip and also from understeer, and added that he felt that he and Scott Dixon might have been "greedy" in their approach to the qualifying session.

Dixon himself - the holder of the track speed record at Iowa - was the first car out on track in the session but he got seriously loose on his first timed lap and was lucky to save the car and set any time at all. Dixon afterwards described his car as "horrible" and correctly predicted that he would be starting very near the back of the grid for Saturday's race - it turned out to be 23rd place.

Other cars including those of Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti and Justin Wilson were struggling to hold a good low line on the short oval track, and finding that their cars were sliding a lot more than previous visits to Iowa Speedway.

Penske's Ryan Briscoe could only manage a midfield time and said that the team "had just missed it" when it came to set-up as he put in a two-lap average speed of 178.771mph for the 10th spot. This was confirmed by the lap of Helio Castroneves which left the Brazilian as the lowest-placed of the Penske stable in 13th position.


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Related Pictures

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British driver James Jakes is finding oval racing a steep learning curve in his first season in the United States. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
JR Hildebrand prepares the National Guard car for its qualifying run at Iowa Speedway. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Danica Patrick prepares for another run on track at the 0.894 mile Iowa Speedway. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Another new look for the #10 car of Dario Franchitti for Iowa Speedway. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
KV Racing Technology team mates Takuma Sato and Tony Kanaan celebrate a strong day at Iowa Speedway which saw Sato claim his first IndyCar pole position. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon rolls out of pitlane during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway poses for pictures with the team from Ed Carpenter Racing after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway (centre), driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory with champagne Sunday, April 13, 2014 after winning the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. Will Power (right), driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finished second. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 13, 2014 during the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. With the victory, Conway moves into second place in the driver point standings. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 13, 2014 during the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. With the victory, Conway moves into second place in the driver point standings. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, raises his arm as he crosses the finish line Sunday, April 13, 2014 to win the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. With the victory, Conway moves into second place in the driver point standings. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Russell LaBounty for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 finished third. (Photo by LAT/ Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
Start of the race. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Start of the race. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Fans watch the racing (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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