Editor’s note: This post is my 100th on this site. Thanks to all of you who have read. It’s a lot of fun.
If the Iowa Speedway were a candy bar, it would be called Fun-size. It’s the smallest track on the schedule at 7/8 of a mile. It is also the most fun race of the year. Lightning quick laps create a bullring atmosphere for Indycars. There are virtually no straights. The cars are turning constantly.
My favorite year at Iowa was 2012 when the USAC Midgets ran as part of the program. It was a great show as the fun size cars zipped around the fun size track. I’d like to see them back here someday.
The Iowa Corn Producers use the race to promote ethanol. They are a dedicated state wide group justly proud of the success this race has. They have exclusive t-shirts proclaiming “This is Our Race”. I know they’re exclusive because I asked someone where I could buy one.
The only thing that could make this event better would be returning it to a night race. The racing was better and the crowd was better. Attendance has been hurt by the late Sunday afternoon start. Surely the track could work something out with Knoxville Speedway for one Saturday a year and change the date by a week to avoid conflicting with the night race Nascar has this weekend.
The strangest thing about this track is that a Penske car has never won here. Ed Carpenter Racing meanwhile has last year’s dominating win by Josef Newgarden which was the team’s third consecutive podium at Iowa. Andretti Autosport has won seven of the ten races here, with Ryan Hunter-Reay winning three times. Look for a Penske or a Carpenter car to win Sunday. Chevy should have a big advantage on this track, which is not good news for Andretti drivers.
Any aero advantage of course can be negated by how cautions fall. The race has been decided more than once by untimely yellows. That may not be enough to help Hunter-Reay, whose luck this year has been awful. Potential good finishes have disappeared for him several times this year.
I think the race comes down to one of the Penske drivers, likely Newgarden, or Carpenter’s lead driver, J. R. Hildebrand. Newgarden has three straight podiums in a Carpenter car here. Hildebrand is now driving that car. Is ECR the new Andretti at Iowa? I’m looking for Hildebrand to get his first win Sunday. A Penske car will probably be on the pole. No driver has won this race from the number 1 staring spot. Newgarden started second last year, but took the lead on the backstretch of the first lap and cruised to victory.