NEWTON, IA – Team Penske has been untouchable this weekend at the Iowa Speedway. They were 1-2-3 in Friday morning’s NTT IndyCar Series practice as well as 1-2-3 in qualifying to set the field for Saturday’s Iowa 300 (7 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network) too.
But, the Honda drivers still feel like they have a potential advantage or at least feel like they can keep up with the bowties despite being nearly two full mph off in terms of pace in qualifying.
Marcus Ericsson practices his No. 7 Honda at the Iowa Speedway on Friday – INDYCAR Media Site
See, the initial practice saw the top speeds set in qual trim. Then, qualifying is just that, qualifying. It’s two laps around the .894-mile oval. The race on Saturday, is 300 Laps. It’s not about being fast for a handful of laps, you need to be quick for 300 circuits.
The Honda’s feel like they can keep up. They had the next nine best speeds in qualifying behind the Penske brigade. Then, with the added boost levels this year, it favors the Honda’s much better than the lower levels did, so much so, they think they could have a chance on Saturday evening.
“With the change to the 150 boost, it’s a boost range now to where the 140 where we had before were weakest of the three for us as a manufacturer,” said defending race winner James Hinchcliffe. “So, getting rid of it obviously puts us in a good spot. There’s still some quick cars with some other guys motors in them but we have a chance.”
Scott Dixon agrees. He says the Penske’s being quick in qualifying isn’t a surprise here. He expected that. It’s the long term pace that wins here and the boost levels that Honda’s have is a good range for them.
“I think that’s kind of normal for them to be honest,” said Dixon on Penske. “They have always had great short pace here. The boost is the same for everybody, this road course boost seems to be happier for the Honda’s.”
Plus, starting position has never seen to matter here. Never has a pole winner won in Iowa. Only twice has the second place starter won. Three of the last five winners have come from ninth or worse.
So, while Penske will obviously be the favorites, don’t count out the Honda’s either.