What to watch for: IndyCar at Iowa (Tonight, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN & Live Extra)

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A RACE TO HALFWAY?

Weather could have a major impact on how tonight’s Iowa Corn Indy 300 plays out. The forecast is calling for showers and thunderstorms around Iowa Speedway, and if the storms come as they’re expected to, the race could go in fits and starts – all the way to Lap 151, the point where it will be an official event. Remember, there’s a street course doubleheader coming next weekend in Toronto for all these teams. They won’t want to linger around Iowa for too long.

FAST AND FRENETIC

Iowa is a wicked little bullring. At 17 seconds per lap, drivers have to wrap their heads around the high sensation of speed. Then there’s the big bump in Turn 2, which has caused its fair share of havoc in past IndyCar races. A strong car set-up that can deal with the bump will be important to have.

HELIO VS. POWER

Helio Castroneves and Will Power are tied for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship lead going into tonight’s race, and neither of them can afford a stumble here. Simon Pagenaud, Pocono winner Juan Pablo Montoya, and Ryan Hunter-Reay are in striking distance, and would be more than happy to add horses to this 2014 title race.

GOTTA BEAT ANDRETTI

Short ovals are Andretti Autosport’s domain, and Iowa has been a great place for them (four consecutive wins and five wins in seven total IndyCar races there). Tonight’s race will be especially important for Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti – both of whom are past Iowa winners and are looking to push forward in the aforementioned championship.

Helio Castroneves will replace ailing Oliver Askew for IndyCar at IMS

Helio Castroneves replacing Askew
James Black/IndyCar
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Helio Castroneves will return to the NTT IndyCar Series next weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, replacing Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew in the No. 7 Dallara- Chevrolet.

The team announced in a Thursday release that Askew wasn’t cleared by the IndyCar medical team after reporting “a balance and coordination issue” after the Sept. 12-13 race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer reported that Askew has been experiencing the concussion-like symptoms since his Aug. 23 wreck in the Indy 500.

Askew was placed in IndyCar’s Return to Racing Protocol. The rookie has endured an up-and-down season, suffering another hard crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the July 4 race on the road course. He also finished third and sixth on back-to-back races at Iowa Speedway in July.

“This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the INDYCAR Medical Team and my doctors,” Askew said in the release. “My priority right now is focusing on my health. Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.”

Castroneves will be driving this weekend at Mid-Ohio for Team Penske in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner has said he actively is seeking a ride for the 2021 season in IndyCar or IMSA with the demise of Penske’s DPi program as Acura switches to new teams next year.

Here’s the release from Arrow McLaren SP:

Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew will withdraw from the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix, after being declared not fit to drive by the INDYCAR Medical Team.

Following the INDYCAR race at Mid-Ohio, Oliver reported a balance and coordination issue, which triggered an examination from the INDYCAR Medical Team. As a result, Oliver is not medically cleared to race and is subject to INDYCAR’s Return to Racing Protocol.

“This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the INDYCAR Medical Team and my doctors. My priority right now is focusing on my health,” Askew said. “Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.”

Askew will be replaced in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet by Helio Castroneves for the upcoming doubleheader Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“The welfare of Oliver, our team members and fellow competitors is paramount,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt.

“We therefore support Oliver and the decision of INDYCAR. Withdrawing to focus on his health and recovery is the right thing to do.”

Helio will join Pato O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, to complete the team’s driver lineup in Indianapolis.

“First and foremost, we wish Oliver the best and that he is able to take time to recover,” said Helio. “I look forward to getting back on track and helping to build on the great progress that Arrow McLaren SP has made this year.”