With the temperatures rising, that can only mean action from Iowa Speedway is right around the corner. This weekend the Verizon IndyCar Series visits the 0.875-mile oval for the 12th time and the storylines are abundant.
The last time we saw the IndyCar Series on track was two weekends ago at Road America, where Josef Newgarden dominated and the points race tightened ever-so-slightly. As it stands there are five drivers within 65 points of the championship’s top spot with still seven crucial races remaining.
New Zealand’s own Scott Dixon leads the field and remains in top form after picking up a podium finish in Elkhart Lake, his fifth podium in the last six races. Despite some qualifying success at the fast short oval, Dixon looks to get over the hump this weekend with another IndyCar win.
“Iowa Speedway is such a tough track for racing Indy cars. You have very high G-force loading and there is always a lot of action on this little bullring style track,” Dixon explained.
“You really have to be on your game with traffic and the quick lap times. I really love this event and especially the fans that attend – they really love Indy car racing and show their support. We’ve had a few poles here over the years but the best we’ve finished so far is third – hopefully, we can change that this time.”
In hot pursuit of Dixon is a pair of Andretti Autosport teammates as Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi are deadlocked at 348 points apiece – 45 markers off of the championship lead. Hunter-Reay will enter the event with confidence as he is the only active driver with multiple wins at Iowa – the No. 28 DHL driver took victory in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
For Rossi, Iowa Speedway is a track that made a permanent impression on him right from the get-go.
“Iowa has been one of my favorite ovals since Day 1,” Rossi admitted. “I love how short, fast, banked and bumpy it is. We had four very strong cars in the test last week, so hopefully, we can convert that into a big result for the NAPA team in order to get the momentum swinging back in our favor once more.”
Hunter-Reay and Rossi will surely have an advantage this weekend as Andretti Autosport often thrives in Iowa. The Honda-powered team has won seven of the 11 races contested at Iowa Speedway including six of the last eight events.
Only Ed Carpenter Racing and Team Penske have grabbed wins in that time period to break up the Andretti party.
Another stout supporter of IndyCar racing at Iowa Speedway is Josef Newgarden, the defending series champion and the most recent winner on the IndyCar trail. Newgarden recorded one of the most dominant victories in IndyCar history back in 2016 when he led 282 laps and won at Iowa for Ed Carpenter Racing.
After a string of unfortunate results, the Verizon Team Penske driver is pointing to his Road America triumph as a launching point for the rest of his championship run.
“I’m pumped to head to Iowa,” said Newgarden. “Our win at Road America was great and we feel like we have gained a lot of momentum. We’ve done well at Iowa before and we’re excited to head back. I know the whole No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet team and myself enjoy short-track racing so we’re looking forward to racing in front of a really fun crowd.”
Rounding out that tight top five is his Team Penske teammate, Will Power. After a month of May sweep, Power backed it up with a strong run at Detroit with two top-10 finishes. The results since then haven’t been as kind, though, as Power crashed out of the Texas race while finishing 18th before facing electrical issues at Road America that relegated him to 23rd.
Looking forward to some short track racing and putting Road America behind him, Power knows Iowa is an opportunity to make some ground up before the series heads to the streets of Toronto following this weekend.
“I’m looking forward to heading to Iowa this weekend. We didn’t have the best luck at Road America so we’re hungry to have a strong weekend,” said Power. “Short-track racing can be a lot of fun which makes racing at Iowa a blast. The No. 12 Verizon Chevy team has worked hard to put together a great car for this weekend and I’m really excited about it.”
In 2018 there have been six different winners over the first ten races of the Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Unsurprisingly, all but one of those drivers are sitting in the top five in points with only Sebastien Bourdais (9th) outside of that mark.
This weekend’s events will be covered live by NBCSN and of course, the INDYCAR Radio Network. All on-track action can be seen live on either NBCSN on by visiting RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
The green flag for the Iowa Corn 300 will fly on Sunday, July 8 at 2:40 p.m. Eastern time on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
Iowa Corn 300 Fast Facts
Race weekend: Saturday, July 7 – Sunday, July 8
Track: Iowa Speedway, a 7/8-mile (0.894-mile) oval in Newton, Iowa
Race distance: 300 laps / 268.2 miles
Entry List: Iowa Corn 300 (PDF)
Firestone tire allotment: Eleven sets for use through the weekend
Twitter: @iowaspeedway, @IndyCar, #IowaCorn300, #IndyCar
Event website: http://IowaSpeedway.com/
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2017 race winner: Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet)
2017 Verizon P1 Award winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), 34.7541 seconds, 185.210 mph (two laps)
One-lap qualifying record: Helio Castroneves, 17.2283 seconds, 186.809 mph, July 11, 2014
Two-lap qualifying record: Scott Dixon, 34.5588 seconds, 186.256 mph, July 11, 2014
NBCSN television broadcasts: Qualifying, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday, July 7 (live); Race, 2 p.m. ET Sunday, July 8 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the NBCSN broadcasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller.
Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query will announce from the Iowa Speedway roof with Rob Howden, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young reporting from the pits on race day.
All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on network affiliates, XM 209, Sirius 217, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying sessions are available on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Saturday, July 7
10:15 – 11:15 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
2:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (single car/two timed laps), NBCSN (live)
5:45 – 6:45 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
Sunday, July 8
1 p.m. – Driver introductions
1:35 p.m. – Command to start engines
1:40 p.m. – Iowa Corn 300 (300 laps/268.2 miles), NBCSN, INDYCAR Radio Network (live)