NTT IndyCar Series Iowa IndyCar 250’s Preview

Felix Rosenqvist © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

Felix Rosenqvist © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]


by Paul Gohde

To most it was a bit of a surprise, but to some fans of IndyCar racing, the sudden explosion of new, young talent scoring single-digit results and a pole at last weekend’s Road America races was anything but. Pole winners, podiums and races led (and won) by the likes of Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward, Alex Palou and Santino Ferrucci have given a fresh look to race results and point standings that, to many, was long overdue. Road courses are one thing, but this weekend’s tight, high-speed Iowa Speedway oval will give those fans two chances to see if these youngsters are for real.

Race Facts: Iowa Speedway first hosted Indy cars in 2007 with Dario Franchitti winning over Marco Andretti and Scott Sharp at the tight, Rusty Wallace-designed oval. Friday and Saturday’s 250-lap races on the banked 0.875-mile oval are numbers 14 and 15 for IndyCar on a track that is often mentioned as a destination for a NASCAR Cup event someday. Track records here are astounding for such a short circuit. Qualifying: One Lap, 2014, Helio Castroneves, 186.809 mph/17.228 sec…Race: 300 laps, 2018, James Hinchcliffe, 149.636 mph/1:47:32.466. Ryan Hunter-Reay has won here three times while Josef Newgarden, Hinchcliffe and Franchitti have each won twice.

Recent Race History: Josef Newgarden dominated the 2019 Iowa race, leading 245/300 laps including the final 42, earning his fourth win of the season. You may not have seen the finish, however, as rain caused the start to be delayed 4.5 hours along with a 27-minute red flag later. Finishing at 1:14 a.m., Hinch outlasted Scott Dixon, Hinchcliffe, pole-winner Simon Pagenaud and Spencer Pigot.

The 2020 IndyCar Season So Far: With three wins in the first four races, Dixon may be on his way to his sixth series crown. He ran his streak to three at Road America #1, but dropped to 12th in race two. Felix Rosenqvist came alive late in Road America #2, passing Pato O’Ward, whose soft tires lost some grip with two laps remaining, to score his first IndyCar series win. Standings: 1) Dixon-173 points…2) Herta-119…3) Pagenaud-110…4) O’Ward-110… 5) Newgarden-106.

Iowa Race Entries: Twenty-three cars (22 in 2019) are entered for the season’s second doubleheader weekend. Oval track specialists Tony Kanaan, Conor Daly and Ed Carpenter return to their oval track rides replacing their road-course counterparts for Iowa.

Notes:  Iowa will be the second of three doubleheader weekends for IndyCar with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey weekend races to run in September…the ARCA stock car series will race at Iowa on Saturday afternoon prior to IndyCar’s Race #2…Veteran 1960’s USAC Champ Car driver Chuck Hulse passed away on July 13 at age 92. Hulse was one of four living open wheel pilots who had won a championship race in both a roadster and a rear-engine car. He was also badly injured in a1964 race, giving up his seat in the Dean Van Lines car to a young rookie named Mario Andretti…Though TV ratings had been rising lately, the Road America doubleheader saw a small dip in viewers.

Our Take: As noted earlier, the rookies are coming; at least on road courses like Road America. Not that the likes of Dixon, Will Power, Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are washed up by any means, but the results at RA portend a competitive season of racing, with the veterans looking through their front windscreens as the youngsters pull away. Dixon may win his sixth championship, being well on his way, but the 19-25 age group is coming on strong and the over 30’s had better take notice. We’ll go with a veteran to win this week as the youngsters will be taken to school much of the time. Try Dixon or perhaps Power to get the win, but if a rookie does find the podium, the aggressive Santino Ferrucci will be a factor.

They Said It: Alex Palou (No 55 Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda): “It’s going to be my first experience on a short oval, which means another completely new experience for me. I now have to switch my mind back to oval racing. It’s not a road course anymore. It’s not my specialty, so it will be a lot of learning once again as a rookie. Everyone has told me that it’s going to be crazy, that it’s a difficult race with the bumps…it will be demanding, but it will be good to help me gain as much experience as possible on that type track.”

Next Race: Honda 200…August 9…Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.



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