By Steve Wittich

Patricio O’Ward, who will start on the pole for the sixth time this season, led an Andretti Autosport sweep of qualifying for the Mazda Iowa 100 Presented by Cooper Tires.

The 19-year-old was the only pilot who was able to put together two laps above 161mph. The Mexican had the two most consistent laps of qualifying with less than two-tenths of a mile per hour separating his first and second laps on the 0.894-mile oval.

“I had confidence in the car because I did that exact same thing in practice, so I knew the car was capable of that,” said O’Ward to TSO after qualifying. “At first, it’s pretty hard to get over that edge because you’re not sure if you’re going to have the grip, and you’re not sure if you are going to get pushed wide a little bit. It was a good run. The car felt good for a qualifying run.”

Patricio O’Ward prior to Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires qualifying at Iowa Speedway (Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)

Dalton Kellett, who finished on the podium in last year’s Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race at Iowa Speedway, was the first driver to qualify for the 100 lap. There were no clouds in the sky, the temperature was 79F, and the humidity was low.

Kellett’s provisional pole didn’t last long, as his Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Norman was able to go 0.6mph quicker.

The sophomore told the ADVANCE Auto Parts Radio Network that he thought he left a little on the table and that Turn 3 on his first lap was a bit hairy.

Norman survived Aaron Telitz, Santi Urrutia, and Victor Franzoni, but his teammate O’Ward was able to lay down two quick laps.

The last car on track was Herta. The current championship leader turned the quickest lap of qualifying at 162.241mph but was not able to overcome a slower first lap and will start on the outside of the front row.

After qualifying, TSO asked the second generation driver if he thought he left anything on the table and his response to us was:

“We just had too much understeer. The tires came in too late. I’m a bit upset with that, but qualifying doesn’t really matter here. It’s more about tire deg and how you manage the tires and so far this year, we’ve been a lot better than everyone else, and that’s why we’ve been able to come back through and win the races. Hopefully, that’s a trend that stays. It’s a bit of an unknown here because it (tire degradation) is massive here, but I think we have a pretty good race car.”

O’Ward’s pole is Andretti Autosport’s sixth pole in the 11 Iowa Speedway Indy Lights races and the team’s eighth in the ten races so far in 2018.

Mazda Iowa 100 Presented by Cooper Tires Qualifying Results

1 27 Pato O’Ward 161.699
2 98 Colton Herta 161.489
3 48 Ryan Norman 161.165
4 28 Dalton Kellett 160.590
5 5 Santi Urrutia 160.266
6 9 Aaron Telitz 160.162
7 23 Victor Franzoni 160.122

The 100 lap Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race will roll off at 11:15 AM tomorrow (Sunday, May 8th).

Don’t miss any of the action:

The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race will air on NBCSN at 11 PM (ET) on Sunday, June 8th.