IndyCar: Iowa Speedway is Andretti Autosport’s house

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The 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway may belong to NASCAR now, but when it comes to the track’s Verizon IndyCar Series races, it’s clear who owns the joint.

Since the series started visiting Iowa in 2007, Andretti Autosport has been the dominant force at IndyCar’s shortest oval with five victories in those seven races.

Additionally, they’ll be looking for their fifth consecutive win at Iowa in Saturday night’s Iowa Corn Indy 300 (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

Last year, the Andretti camp claimed a 1-2 finish on the bullring as James Hinchcliffe led 226 of 250 laps en route to victory over teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. The Canadian joined Tony Kanaan (now with Chip Ganassi Racing; 2010), Marco Andretti (2011), and Hunter-Reay (2012) in contributing to the aforementioned streak of success.

And from an overall standpoint, the series’ two short ovals have been happy hunting grounds for the team lately. Between Iowa and the Milwaukee Mile, the team has earned four wins, seven podiums, and nine Top-5 finishes in the last two years alone.

This should all have Hunter-Reay anxious to re-assert himself in the championship after an 18th-place finish at Pocono knocked him to fifth in the standings, 58 points behind co-leaders Will Power and Helio Castroneves of Team Penske.

Iowa is also usually a strong track for Marco Andretti, who has four IndyCar podiums there. Championship-wise, he’s a ways back at 121 points behind Power and Castroneves in seventh place – but a win on Saturday night could grant contender status to the third-generation driver.

Then there’s Hinchcliffe, who has yet to hit the podium this season and has only been able to garner a pair of fifths (Belle Isle 2, Houston 1) as his best results in 2014. But after his dominant performance at Iowa one year ago, a repeat of that on Saturday could be the start of a second-half surge for him.

Finally, Munoz has collected two podiums in the last three races but will encounter Iowa for the first time in an IndyCar. He’s ran it twice in Indy Lights, however, with results of seventh in 2012 and eighth in 2013.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.