Heat races to determine grid for IndyCar at Iowa

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For the second year in a row, the Iowa Corn Indy 250 field will be determined by a series of heat races.

Wanting to make some changes to their usual oval qualifying format – and perhaps nodding to the state of Iowa’s strong heritage of short-track racing – INDYCAR instituted the heat format last season at Iowa Speedway with three, 30-lap races setting the grid for the race. For 2013, those three heat races have been expanded to 50 laps each, and lineups for those preliminary events will be set by single-lap qualifying (last year, the groups were separated by combined practice times).

Race One will consist of the even-numbered positions starting with eighth position from single-lap quals, and the results will set the even-numbered positions in the starting field, beginning from 12th position. The top two finishers in Race One will move into Race Three, where they’ll start eighth and tenth respectively.

Race Two will feature the odd-numbered positions starting with seventh position from single-lap quals, and the results will set the odd-numbered positions on the grid, beginning from 11th position. The top two finishers in Race Two will also move into Race Three, where they’ll start seventh and ninth.

Finally, Race Three will be made up of the six fastest drivers from single-lap quals and the four transfer drivers from Races One and Two. This heat will determine the first five rows of the grid.

Valuable championship points will also be available for 12 starters, with nine points going to the pole winner. The point value will then descend by one point each position to one point for 11th and 12th.

Other IZOD IndyCar Series events outside of the Indianapolis 500 (which has its own points system) reward one point to the pole winner.

“The strategy is certainly different this time around with the heat races paying points, so we need to focus on not only being fast at the end of the race, but coming right out of the box strong,” said Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won at Iowa last season as part of his three-race win streak that propelled him toward an eventual series title.

The three heat races will be streamed Saturday evening starting at 6:45 p.m. ET on IndyCar.com.

IndyCar at IMS Friday: How to watch, start times, live streaming info

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With three races remaining in the NTT IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon has a commanding lead and history on his side entering Friday’s opener of the Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The five-time series champion leads defending champ Josef Newgarden by 72 points.

Since 2014, the points leader with three races left has won the championship in five of the past six years, including Dixon in ’18.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the championship standings following every round after opening 2020 with three consecutive victories. Dixon also led the points by 78 points with three races remaining when he won the title in 2008.

Dixon, Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are championship eligible.

Anyone outside 108 points of the lead after Indy will be eliminated heading into the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Here is the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course schedule for Friday (all times are ET), including details and start times:


Indianapolis Motor Speedway TV schedule for Friday

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 1: 3:30 p.m., USA Network, NBC Sports Gold and streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for IndyCar on NBCSN this weekend with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.


IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway start times, information

COMMAND TO START ENGINES: 3:53 p.m.

GREEN FLAG: 4 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 85 laps (207.35 miles) around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in Indianapolis.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate (A 10th set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie.) Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires in the race.

PUSH TO PASS: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 57 degrees with a 0% chance of rain at the green flag.

QUALIFYING: 6:20 p.m. Thursday (NBC Sports Gold)

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the 25 drivers racing this weekend at Indianapolis