Previewing the Iowa Corn 300 as championship leader Scott Dixon looks to build on his recent win at Road America.
The Kiwi has 3 Iowa Speedway poles to his name but is yet to finish higher than 3rd at the 0.894 mile oval. Despite securing his first ever win at Road America two weeks ago and leading the point standings, the Ganassi driver is expecting a tough weekend in the Midwest.
“I think we’re going to be in for a bit of an uphill battle as our overall package seems to be at a slight disadvantage on the short ovals like this track and likely Gateway. You have very high g-force loading and there is always a lot of action on this bullring-style track.”.
Scott Dixon, No. 9 NTT Data Honda.
Newgarden hoping to dominate again in Iowa
The Verizon IndyCar series returns to Newton Iowa and the scene of Josef Newgarden’s dominant win last year. The Penske driver has finished on the podium in each of the last 3 races at Iowa Speedway. Sitting in the top 5 in the championship standings, the Nashville-native is full of confidence for the weekend.
“I’m really pumped for the race at Iowa. For starters, I won last year, which was huge for me and my career. Secondly, we’re racing again in the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevy in which I won earlier this season in at Barber. And on top of that, we’re coming off a solid finish at Road America. We’ve been working on our oval program since Texas and have a lot of things we want to try out that we think will give us a really strong car.”
Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet.
Pagenaud confident of Chevy advantage
Defending IndyCar series champion Simon Pagenaud hopes to repeat his pole winning performance from 2016. Aiming to close the gap to Scott Dixon in the championship standings, the Frenchman is confident Chevrolet teams will have the upper hand.
“It’s a track where we should have a little advantage with our Chevy package and expect to strong there. We got the Verizon P1 Pole there last year and finished fourth. So, we’re definitely excited to go back and maybe finish a little higher this time.”
Simon Pagenaud, No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.
Andretti on the back foot
Andretti Autosport will be hoping for another strong performance having won 7 of the last 10 races at Iowa Speedway. Their last win was with Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2015 but the American is not confident going in to this weekend’s race.
“I’ve always loved racing at Iowa Speedway and I think our results show it. The No. 28 team has three wins at Iowa and we’re focused on getting number four for the DHL guys. Ever since the latest downforce rules package has been mandated, we have been struggling to keep up. Hopefully we can find some speed on race weekend to be at the front fighting for another win.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 DHL Honda.
Rookie run for Gutierrez
Meanwhile Mexican rookie Esteban Gutierrez makes his oval debut at Iowa having not been cleared to race at Texas earlier in the season. The former F1-driver will complete the rest of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar season, replacing the injured Sebastien Bourdais.
“It’s great to approach the race weekend having done some testing at the track. Obviously, it’s a completely new racing style for me. An oval seems very basic from the outside but it’s actually quite complex. I really enjoyed it at the test, and I’m very excited to do my first oval race at Iowa. It will definitely take some time for me to adapt, especially racing with other cars around. That will be an interesting experience.”
Esteban Gutierrez, No. 18 UNIFIN Honda.
Iowa Corn 300 schedule
Saturday, July 8 (all times local)
1000-1115: IndyCar practice session 1 – available on IndyCar.com
1400-1500: Verizon P1 Award qualifying – NBCSN Live
1815-1845: IndyCar practice session 2 – available on IndyCar.com
Sunday, July 9 (all times local)
1640: command to start engines
1644: Iowa Corn 300 (300 laps/268.2 miles), NBCSN (Live)
Iowa Corn 300 – pre-race driver quotes:
“It’s one of those tracks that I’d like to get a win at and the competition is always good. Iowa fans are always a fun crowd so I’m ready to go back and see them.” Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.
“Iowa is both very physically and mentally demanding. I really enjoyed racing there back in the (Mazda) Road to Indy days and hope to have some success in an Indy car there as well. Short oval racing is always exciting, so we hope to come out of it with a lot of experience gained and a good finish.” Conor Daly, No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet.
“We had a successful test at Iowa (last) week, so I’m looking forward to getting back on track for the race weekend. I’ve had some not so great results in the past couple of weeks, but I won in Iowa in 2013, so hopefully, we can come away with another win and turn around our luck for the rest of the season.” James Hinchcliffe, No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.
“Iowa was one of our best results last year and with the productive test we had last week, I feel good going into this weekend. This is one of my favorite tracks on the calendar, so I will be looking to put on a great show for the fans and hopefully get us to victory lane for the first time this year.” Alexander Rossi, No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda.