What to watch for: IndyCar at Iowa

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– Critical day for Marco, RHR: Andretti Autosport has won four times in the IZOD IndyCar Series’ six events at Iowa Speedway, with Marco Andretti winning in 2011 and Ryan Hunter-Reay taking the checkered flag last year en route to the championship. Both of them need to come through with results as they both try to reel in championship leader Helio Castroneves. RHR currently sits second in the standings and lost nine points to Castroneves yesterday after he won the pole (he’s now 25 points off the Brazilian’s pace), while Andretti has slipped to third after electrical issues stopped his run one weekend ago in Milwaukee.

– Bump day, literally: Ask anyone that’s lived in the Midwest – the summers can be hot as a broiler and the winters can be stone cold. Those particular patterns have helped make for a bumpy ride at Iowa Speedway, particularly in Turns 1-2, where the bumps have helped end the day of more than one driver in the past. As mentioned earlier this week, they’re not as bad as they used to be, but teams will still have to make sure their cars are set-up properly in order to deal with them.

– Carving through traffic: Like last weekend at Milwaukee, the short oval at Iowa will put emphasis on dealing with lapped traffic. But with laps ticking by in the 17-to-18 second range, drivers will have to make their decisions quickly when they come upon the backmarkers in the field.

– Fatigue is a factor: Didn’t we just say this? Well, it’s worth emphasizing again. Everybody in the IndyCar paddock is ready for a weekend off after this race, which will end the most grueling stretch they’ll have all year. But teams and drivers alike must remain mentally sharp for a little while longer. Minds can’t wander at 185 miles per hour or on pit road during critical late-race stops.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.