Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: Iowa Speedway preview

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The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda resume action this weekend at Iowa Speedway, the lone short oval on the 2017 calendar for Indy Lights and the only oval period for USF2000.

After completing their fourth double-headers of 2017 at Road America, both series will contest only one race around the .875-mile oval this weekend. Indy Lights will feature a 100-lap affair, dubbed the Mazda Iowa 100, while USF2000’s will be 60 laps, similarly dubbed the Mazda Iowa 60. Both races are scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Below are quick previews for both series.


  • Top 5 in points: 1. Kyle Kaiser, 199, 2. Matheus Leist, 172, 3. Colton Herta, 161, 4. Nico Jamin, 159, T-5. Aaron Telitz, 149, T-5. Neil Alberico, 149.
  • The Indy Lights field increases to 15 drivers this week, with Chad Boat driving an extra entry for Belardi Auto Racing. This is Boat’s first start in Indy Lights, and will be the first of two starts he’ll make in the 2017 season. He will also race at Gateway Motorsports Park on August 26.
  • Seven drivers entered have raced at Iowa Speedway previously in Indy Lights: Santi Urrutia, Shelby Blackstock, Zachary Claman DeMelo, Neil Alberico, Juan Piedrahita, Dalton Kellett, and Kyle Kaiser.  Chad Boat has also raced at Iowa previously, in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards, but never in a single-seater.
  • Matheus Leist won the only other oval race this year (the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway). Points leader Kyle Kaiser suffered his worst finish of the season (ninth) in the same event, but has previously won on a short oval (Phoenix Raceway, 2016).
  • Recent winners at Iowa Speedway: Félix Serrallés (2016), Max Chilton (2015).



  • Top five in points: 1. Oliver Askew, 215, Rinus van Kalmthout, 191, 3. Kaylen Frederick, 144, 4. Parker Thompson, 134, 5. Calvin Ming, 112.

    Oliver Askew saw his championship lead dramatically reduced at Road America. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • This is the first time USF2000 is competing at Iowa Speedway since 2010. Sage Karam was victorious that year.
  • Points leader Oliver Askew is looking to rebound from a difficult outing at Road America, when loose camber shims on the left-front wheel relegated him to a 17th-place finish in Race 1. While he finished third in Race 2, Rinus van Kalmthout swept the weekend, his first victories in USF2000, and only trails Askew by 24 points heading into the weekend.
  • The field sees a slight drop down to 14 entries. Perhaps most notable among the drivers absent is David Malukas, who won the pole and finished second in Race 1 at Road America.

The USF2000 race will roll off at 2:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, with Indy Lights slated for 3:00 p.m. ET.

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F1 Preview: 2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Save for two occasions, in 2006, and 2010, the Australian Grand Prix has served as the season-opening event for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 1996, and this weekend’s event will be the 21st time that the city of Melbourne has kicked off the Formula 1 campaign.

The 2018 season is the fifth one of the current hybrid power unit era, the second season of the current aero regulations, and the second under Liberty Media’s guidance.

Last year saw titans Mercedes AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari duel for supremacy for most of the season before Mercedes distanced Ferrari late in the season to take the constructor’s title and the driver’s title, with Lewis Hamilton, who is now tied with Sebastian Vettel on four world championships apiece.

Four drivers on the grid have Formula 1 world championships to their name: Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also has a world championship to his name as a two-time titlist in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

So, what can viewers expect from the 2018 curtain-raiser in Australia? A handful of things to watch are below?

2018 Australian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Does Anyone Have Anything for Mercedes?

Only on one day during pre-season testing did a Mercedes driver lead the way – Lewis Hamilton was fastest on the final day of Week 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, all indications were that was by design, with the team focusing the majority of the second week, if not the entire second week, on long runs with their W09 EQ Power+ chassis.

Such a decision is an ominous one, in that it indicates the team is very comfortable with the amount of speed in the car and did not see a need, or desire, to show their hand during testing.

With that in mind, the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas may yet again have the best and fastest cars, and the team looks poised to potentially make it five constructor’s and driver’s championships in a row.

Ferrari and Red Bull Look to End Mercedes Reign

The biggest threats to Mercedes are undoubtedly Ferrari and Red Bull, the only other teams to win in 2017.

And both teams displayed a lot of pace during testing, particularly in the “one-lap speed” category. Ricciardo set a lap record around the Catalunya circuit during the second week, only for Vettel to supplant that mark later in the week. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen led the way during the final day of testing.

It is unknown how that pace will translate over the course of a race distance. Mercedes appeared to have an edge on both Ferrari and Red Bull over long runs and race simulations, but there is also a theory that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull had their true long-run form on display.

Still, if a team is going to knock off Mercedes, it will likely be either Ferrari or Red Bull.

McLaren on the Rebound?

Put simply, the previous three seasons for McLaren F1 Team were a bit of a disaster. Their partnership with Honda yielded point totals of 27 (2015), 76 (2016), and 30 (2017) in a three-year venture that was defined by poor reliability and underwhelming power.

The relationship hit a boiling point last year and both entities parted ways ahead of the 2018 season, with McLaren signing a new power unit deal with Renault.

Testing went better than in previous years, though the team continued to battle reliability problems. However, all issues appeared to be minor, needling issues rather than more significant, foundational problems, as the other Renault teams (Red Bull and Renault Sport F1 Team) had solid runs with few reliability issues.

The car does appear to have speed in it, so if the reliability problems are behind them, McLaren could be in for a rebound season.

Stuck in the Midfield Again

Formula 1’s battle amongst the midfield is set to be as fierce as ever as a host of a several teams have a chance at being “best of the rest.”

Sahara Force India has been the frontrunner from the the midfield teams each of the last two years, finishing fourth in the constructor’s title in both 2016 and 2017, though if the steady conflict between drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez continues through 2018, it could hamper their efforts significantly.

Renault Sport F1 Team and Haas F1 Team look to improve on their 2017 form, while Toro Rosso is in a new partnership with Honda power units…and has experienced a surprisingly smooth pre-season as Honda’s 2018 platform looks significantly better, with the team enjoying a solid run of testing with few, if any, reliability problems.

Williams Martini Racing and Alfa Romeo Sauber appear to be at the back of the pack entering the season, but both could battle for points finishes if those ahead of them falter.