NTT IndyCar Series: Iowa 300 Preview

James Hinchcliffe celebrates in victory lane at Iowa Speedway after winning the Iowa Corn 300. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

James Hinchcliffe celebrates in victory lane at Iowa Speedway after winning the 2018 Iowa Corn 300. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]


by Paul Gohde

The upcoming Iowa 300 oval track race at the tight Iowa Speedway circuit comes at a crucial point in the season’s points chase. With six races remaining on the schedule, half will be contested on ovals, while just two of the first 11 were run on those types of circuits. We’ll soon see who will show their oval-track talents as they chase the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series Championship.

Race Facts: Iowa Speedway is the shortest track on the IndyCar schedule at 7/8th mile. Saturday night’s race is for 300 dizzying laps (268.2 miles) around the 12-14 degree-banked corners. It will be the 13th Indy car event held here since the 2007 IRL inaugural…Scott Dixon holds the two-lap qualifying record here (34.588 seconds/ 186.256 mph), while James Hinchcliffe set the race record last year (1:47:32.466/149.636 mph). Ryan Hunter-Reay has won at Iowa three times and Andretti Autosport has won seven of the 12 races run to date.

Past Races at Iowa: In 2018 Hinchcliffe led the final 45 laps for his sixth career Indy car win. He started 11th and was in the top-10 by lap 18. The race went under caution after Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato had light contact on lap 294. Josef Newgarden and Robert Wickens pitted during the caution period, hoping that fresh tires would serve them well when the green flag came out. But the race ended under caution six laps later, handing second and third place to Spencer Pigot and Sato, while Newgarden and Wickens settled for fourth and fifth. The race set track records for the fastest average speed and the fewest cautions (2). Pole winner Will Power finished sixth.

2019 Season So Far: Point Standings after 11 events: 1) Newgarden /3 wins /434 points…2)  Alexander Rossi /2/-4…3) Simon Pagenaud /3/-39…4) Dixon /1/-86…5) Power /0/-138… Sato and Colton Herta have each won one race…Newgarden’s points lead has shrunk by 21 after the last two races at Road America and Toronto…Honda (901 points) leads Chevrolet by 59 points in the manufacturers championship.

The Field: Twenty-two cars are entered for Saturday night. Sage Karam and Conor Daly will race for the Carlin team, with it looking like Daly may have found a home for the rest of the season there. Ed Carpenter returns to his team’s seat for this oval event. He’ll have two more oval races coming at Pocono and Gateway.


  • TV-NBCSN…Qualifying, Friday, 2:00 p.m. (ET), Live…Race, Saturday, 7:00 p.m. (ET), Live…Green Flag: 7:15 p.m.
  • Marco Andretti won the 2011 race here after starting in 17th
  • With the series heading to Iowa last season, Scott Dixon led Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi in the points chase.
  • The Iowa event will run without a title sponsor in 2019, simply calling the race the Iowa 300. Last year the event was known as the Iowa Corn 300.
  • No driver has ever won at Iowa after starting on the pole.
  • Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan and Dixon are the only drivers who have competed in all 12 previous Iowa events.
  • Sebastien Bourdais will start his 200th Indy car race on Saturday night.

Our Take: Ill-timed pit strategy may have cost Newgarden a win in last year’s race, but slow stops can also be costly here as lap times can be in the 20-second range. Thus, when to pit, and mistake-free pit work, can go a long way toward winning when flying around the “bullring” called Iowa Speedway. Staying near the front and out of trouble will be primary for race strategy, with aggressive moves waiting for the final 50 laps. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport Honda) is as good at this “hanging around” race planning as anyone, witness his three wins and a  second here, while Will Power (Team Penske Chevrolet) often shows his speed near the end, so we’ll go with one of those two to win.

Final Words: Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda); “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 that little bullring-style track. You really have to be on your game with the traffic and quick lap times. It’s got a lot more character having weathered-in over the years. I really love this event and the fans that attend. I’m glad we’re back to a Saturday night race. This track always presents a unique challenge.”



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