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.

Wickens tops final Road America practice

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Robert Wickens showed the way in final practice for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, topping the speed charts with a quick time of 1:42.991, the only time below 1:43 during the session.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, and Graham Rahal completed the top five.

The lone incident of the session came right at the end, when Zach Veach went for a spin exiting Bill Mitchell Bend (turn 13). However, Veach did not suffer any damage in the incident.

Times are below. Qualifying begins at 4:00 p.m. ET (3:00 p.m. local time) and will air on NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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