It was a good news/bad news day for Helio Castroneves here Saturday at Iowa Speedway.
The IZOD IndyCar series point leader captured the pole position, earned nine points and extended his advantage to 25 points over Ryan Hunter-Reay.
But instead of starting Sunday’s Iowa Corn 250 from the point, Castroneves will take the green flag in 11th after taking a 10-spot grid penalty for changing engines on Saturday night.
“It was good to get those nine points and my car feels great so it would be nice to start up front but I think we’ve got a good enough car to get up there,” said the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner who is seeking the first championship of his career.
“It’s going to be a challenge tomorrow and my teammate (Will Power) is plenty strong but we’ll have 250 laps to figure things out.”
Castroneves captured the conventional pole during the 2-lap qualifying session in the heat of a 92-degree afternoon and then backed it up by leading all 50 laps of the qualifying heat on Saturday evening.
The fastest six qualifiers were locked into the 50-lap finale and the other four spots came from the two previous heat races — won by Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal.
Nobody had anything for Castroneves except Power, who closed to within a couple car lengths while lapping cars but backed off to take second.
“We’ve both got good cars but it’s a long race and a lot can happen,” said Power, who inherited the pole position and is coming off his initial podium of the season last weekend at Milwaukee.
“My car was good in the heat of the day and that’s when we’ll be racing so I’m optimistic.”
Power hasn’t won in over a year and Scott Dixon (starting fourth) is also looking for his first victory of 2013 as is teammate Dario Franchitti, who starts next to last.
Two-time winner James Hinchcliffe lines up ou the outside of the front row and teammate Marco Andretti, third in the points but searching for his initial win, starts third.
The opening 50-lap heat race was ho-hum as Dixon spanked the 9-car field and Takuma Sato finished second. But the second heat had some action as Rahal charged from seventh to first using the high line and overhauling Ed Carpenter.