Sato Scores First Pole
June 24, 2011 | 6:11 P.M. EST
"I knew we were going to be competitive because of last year and this morning I was truly comfortable in the car." (Photo: IndyCar)
Takuma Sato earned his first IZOD IndyCar Series pole start, becoming the first Japanese pole sitter in the IZOD IndyCar Series, posting a two-lap average speed of 180.375 mph on the .875-mile Iowa Speedway oval.
Sato's previous best starting spot was third at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2010; his best previous best start on an oval was fourth at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago.
"I want to say a big thank you to the whole team, the fans, the sponsors and everyone who has supported me," Sato said. "It is a fantastic achievement. I knew we were going to be competitive because of last year and this morning I was truly comfortable in the car. I could feel where we needed to be with the setup for qualifying."
Danica Patrick, driving the No. 7 Team GoDaddy car for Andretti Autosport, averaged 180.210 and will start next to the KV Racing Technology-Lotus driver.
"It feels really good to have the GoDaddy car in position to be able to guard up front and have the opportunity for a solid race day," Patrick said. "On short tracks like this it's nice to start near the front because you can gain ground more quickly. If you start near the back of the field you could be a lap behind very quickly. I haven't started on the front row in a long time so it's a good feeling."
Tony Kanaan (179.833) and rookie JR Hildebrand (179.569) -- a season-high starting spot -- will share Row 2. Will Power (179.474) and Dario Franchitti (179.474) -- tied for the series championship points lead heading into the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer -- will be on Row 3. The were separated by 0.0001 in cumulative time.
Scott Dixon qualified 23rd. It is the first time he has started outside the top-3 at Iowa Speedway.
Six different teams are represented in the top 10; 23 of the 24 cars to make a qualifying attempt were separated by less than a second.
Simona De Silvestro has not been medically cleared to drive this weekend.
Upon evaluation Sunday morning at Milwaukee, Simona De Silvestro had no physical signs of a concussion after the neurological exam and didn't report any post-concussion symptoms to the INDYCAR medical team so she was cleared to drive. After taking 11 laps in the car, Simona returned to the care center reporting post-concussion symptoms. Physical and emotional stress can bring out post-concussion symptoms.
To be cleared to drive after a concussion, a driver must pass the IMPACT Test and INDYCAR Medical evaluation. Simona passed the IMPACT Test on Wednesday but was still exhibiting post-concussion symptoms when evaluated by INDYCAR Medical on Friday at Iowa so she has not been cleared to drive. She will be re-evaluated at Toronto.
The Iowa Corn Indy 250 will be telecast live in High Definition at 8 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS.