Qualifying for the Iowa 300 is in the books, as Simon Pagenaud won his second pole in a row and NTT IndyCar Series best third of the season.

So why are you seeing my dog, Boomer? Because he loves racing and he loves sticking his head out of the roof of my car and feel the wind in his face. That and analytics tell us that Pit Lane Parley fans love dogs, and this is a shameless attempt to get more readers to my blog.

So here we are, Three Things from a hot day (93 degrees/112 heat index) qualifying.

*Pagenaud is on the pole, but does he want to be? Pagenaud’s pole is actually the fifth straight for Team Penske here at Iowa, but since the IndyCar series started racing here in 2007, the polesitter has never fared that well. Believe it or not, the best finish a car that started P1 has mustered is P4, which was last accomplished by Pagenaud in 2017.

*Championship contenders. Team Penske swept the pole and the first three positions on the grid for Saturday evening’s race. Newgarden, who enters the weekend as the points leader with 434 points, will start third, Alexander Rossi, who trails Newgarden by four points, will start sixth, and Scott Dixon (-86 points) will roll off in eighth place. By virtue of winning the pole, Pagenaud picks up a single point and is now just 38 points in arrears of his teammate.

*Qualifying surprises. Ed Carpenter Racing lives for oval racing and its boss jumps in the seat of his No. 20 machine for such events, has had success in oval qualifying this year, putting three cars in the top four at the Indy 500 and had Spencer Pigot qualify sixth at Texas. Both ECR drivers struggled, with Carpenter qualifying P17 and Pigot P19. Sage Karam, racing with Carlin for the second week in a row, was at the bottom of the speed chart for most of the first practice, found some speed on a new set of tires, then qualified the car in the 14th position. Tony Kanaan wasn’t happy with his qualifying effort, but his P13 starting spot is his best of the season. Of course, Chevy took the first three starting spots with Penske, but Honda captured spots 4-12.

The cars will be back on track for an hour at 6 p.m. tonight for a final practice, then will take the green flag for racing at 6:15 p.m. Saturday.