PREVIEW: Iowa Corn 300

Photo: IndyCar

The Verizon IndyCar Series’ longest race in terms of lap count and shortest in terms of racetrack length occurs this weekend, with the 300-lap Iowa Corn 300 at the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway bullring (Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Weather pending, it will be the third completed oval race of the year and the first of a back-to-back run of races, and first in a three-in-four-weeks stretch.

Here’s some of the talking points going into the weekend:

2016 Iowa Corn 300 – Talking Points

Track changes 

Iowa Speedway’s notorious bump in Turn 2 has been a big talking point but may have been smoothed out this year. Yet the surface in Turns 3 and 4 could be an issue this year.

“They did a pretty nice job in Turns 1 and 2, shaving some of the bumps, but they are still popping up and now there are bumps in Turns 3 and 4 where they had to patch the surface, so the grip is very uneven,” said Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet.

Added Takuma Sato, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda, “Iowa is a great track. It is one of the most exciting short ovals and we have such close battles in very tight competition. It’s physical – we pull over 5 Gs – so you can see the cornering speeds are quite impressive. I think Iowa always produces great entertainment because it is a very competitive race. I enjoy driving this challenging track and love the venue.”

Night to day

The big change this year is it moving from a Saturday night race to a Sunday late afternoon race. Traditionally a night race, Iowa has been a day race before, most recently in 2013. With the race occurring in the afternoon it will be a hotter affair and perhaps quite slippery over the course of the race.

Will Power’s roll heads to Iowa

At a track he hasn’t traditionally done well at, Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet team seek their third straight victory. His most recent decent finish there was fifth in 2010. But if he can continue his roll of form of late that’s propelled him into championship discussion, look out.

Andretti’s quest for seven straight

As noted separately, Andretti Autosport will look to go for its seventh straight win at Iowa, and eighth overall, having won seven of the first nine Iowa Speedway races. Ryan Hunter-Reay also goes for his third straight Iowa win and fourth in five years, while Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz look to break winless runs. Alexander Rossi makes his Iowa debut, and having impressed at Phoenix before pulling off the upset win at Indianapolis, he could be a good pick this weekend.

Penske’s search for any Iowa result of note

By contrast to Andretti Autosport, Team Penske has never won at Iowa. In fact, the team hasn’t even finished on the podium since 2010, when Helio Castroneves finished second.

The last top fives? That same year. Castroneves was second with Ryan Briscoe fourth and Power fifth. The team has not scored a top-five at Iowa since.

Recent finishes of Penske drivers at Iowa since the Dallara DW12 came into being? Not brilliant. It’s simply bizarre to fathom because the team is so good.

  • Juan Pablo Montoya: 2015 (24th), 2014 (16th)
  • Helio Castroneves: 2015 (11th), 2014 (8th), 2013 (8th), 2012 (6th)
  • Will Power: 2015 (10th), 2014 (14th), 2013 (17th), 2012 (23rd)
  • Simon Pagenaud: 2015 (14th), 2014 (11th, then with Schmidt), 2013 (6th), 2012 (5th)

No pole winners have become race winners

Here’s your Iowa Speedway winners and where they’ve started, and then the pole winners and where they’ve finished:

  • 2007: Dario Franchitti (Started 3rd), Scott Dixon (Pole, Finished 10th)
  • 2008: Dan Wheldon (3rd), Scott Dixon (4th)
  • 2009: Dario Franchitti (4th), Helio Castroneves (7th)
  • 2010: Tony Kanaan (15th), Will Power (5th)
  • 2011: Marco Andretti (17th), Takuma Sato (19th)
  • 2012: Ryan Hunter-Reay (7th), Dario Franchitti (25th)
  • 2013: James Hinchcliffe (2nd), Will Power (17th)
  • 2014: Ryan Hunter-Reay (13th), Scott Dixon (4th)
  • 2015: Ryan Hunter-Reay (9th), Helio Castroneves (11th)

TK’s due

Tony Kanaan has led 317 laps at Iowa Speedway in the last two years – 247 in 2014 and 70 last year. An engine issue took him out last year but prior to that, he’d come third of each the previous three years (2012 to 2014) and second in 2011, after winning in 2010. Needless to say, the driver of the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet is due to break through.

Newgarden’s pain threshold

The Iowa Speedway race will be a tougher test for Josef Newgarden, driver of the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, and he knows it. He’ll be relying on JR Hildebrand’s setup help from last week’s test; Newgarden’s teammate and team owner, Ed Carpenter, traditionally runs well at Iowa and will look for a decent driving result in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. Newgarden has finished second here each of the last two years but this is his biggest test yet.

No Sage; how does Chilton fare?

The kid I dubbed IndyCar’s “new, needed, black hat” last year is arguably the most notable absence year-on-year in Iowa. Sage Karam was the star attraction in last year’s race, even if his driving tactics raised the ire of, most notably Carpenter and Graham Rahal. But he won’t have an encore.

In his place is Max Chilton, who’s in desperate need of a good result himself and could well surprise in the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet this weekend. Chilton scored an emotional win in Indy Lights here a year ago and has strangely fared better on the ovals than road and street courses this year, Phoenix proving his best result to date. He won’t ruffle feathers like Karam did, but will Chilton be able to emulate or exceed the third place that Karam scored here last year?

Old dogs vs. the young chargers

This race has always proven a good test of experience vs. youthful exuberance, with experience usually winning out. Karam and Newgarden’s star turns in recent years aside – and last year had a really forward looking top-five with Ryan Hunter-Reay winning over Newgarden, Karam, Rahal and Carlos Munoz – it’s been the veterans like Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves that have traditionally run the strongest here.

How will, as NBCSN IndyCar analyst Paul Tracy once called a battle between he and Jimmy Vasser at Milwaukee, the “old, salty sea dogs” fare against the young chargers who are keen to win on Iowa’s shortest track? It’ll be fun to watch.

Pagenaud’s points lead

Simon Pagenaud’s points lead has been a story throughout the year.

After the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and his third straight win, it was 76 points. But that was before finishes of 19th, 13th, second and 13th in the last four completed races – the first of which, the Indianapolis 500, was a double points race.

Yet here’s been his points gap to second:

  • Indianapolis 500: 57 points to Scott Dixon (292-235)
  • Detroit 1: 59 to Helio Castroneves (313-254)
  • Detroit 2: 80 to Dixon (357-277)
  • Road America: 74 to Castroneves (375-301)

Pagenaud is lucky that lead has only gone down a net of two points in the last four races. Any further stumbles though – a la teammate Juan Pablo Montoya in this race last year – will open the door back up for those behind him.

The final word

Scott Dixon has never won at Iowa – a rare track he hasn’t ticked off – but the driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet is good at explaining it:

“Iowa Speedway is such a tough track for racing Indy cars. You have very high g-force loading and there is always a lot of action on that little bullring-style track. You really have to be on your game with traffic and the quick lap times. It’s got a lot more character having weathered in over the past few years and the bumps in Turns 1 and 2. The track grip has come down a little bit as well, which makes it interesting. I really love this event and especially the fans that attend – they really love Indy car racing and show their support.”

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule:

At-track schedule (all times local and CT):

Saturday, July 9
10 – 11:15 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, (Live)
2 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (single car/two timed laps), NBCSN (Live)
6:15 – 6:45 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, (Live)

Sunday, June 26
1 p.m. – Systems Check
4 p.m. – Driver Introductions
4:35 p.m. – Command to Start Engines
4:40 p.m. – Iowa Corn 300 (300 laps/268.2 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Here’s last year’s top 10: 

1. Ryan Hunter-Reay
2. Josef Newgarden
3. Sage Karam
4. Graham Rahal
5. Carlos Munoz
6. Ed Carpenter
7. Marco Andretti
8. Ryan Briscoe
9. Sebastien Bourdais
10. Will Power
11. Helio Castroneves (Pole)

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Detroit


The focus of the Detroit Monster Energy Supercross round was on the mid-pack battle while Aaron Plessinger pulled away from the field, but when he crashed after hooking his foot in the dirt, the results once more looked like we’ve come to expect, with Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac sharing the podium for the fifth time in 10 rounds.

Supercross Results Detroit
Justin Barcia was part of an exciting, four-rider battle in the middle of Detroit’s A-Main. – Feld Motor Sports

For Sexton, Plessinger’s late-race crash was a vindication of sorts. Several times already this season, Sexton has crashed while battling for the lead and the points that has cost him keeps him sporting the red plate. He lost points in Detroit for a different reason, however.

Sexton was allowed to keep the win, but was penalized seven points for jumping in a red cross section of the course. As a result, he dropped four points to Webb and two to Tomac. Sexton is now 17 points behind Webb in the championship hunt.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Overall Results; Click here for 250 Overall Results

One week after snatching the red plate from Tomac for the first time in 2023, Webb stretched his advantage by two. With his second-place finish, Webb holds a three-point lead over Tomac, which essentially means both riders control their fate in the coming weeks. Webb continues to have a sweep of the top five this season with his sixth consecutive podium.

Coming off his worst finish of the season, Tomac rebounded to finish third. His eighth-place result last week was partially attributed to a stiff neck that hindered him in traffic and he still suffered some of those same effects in Detroit. Before Plessinger’s crash, he was destined to be the only rider in the three-man title scrum to finish off the podium in Detroit.

It is surprising what one position can do for one’s confidence.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Justin Barcia scored his fourth top-five of the season. He was part of the exciting four-man battle that dominated the middle stages of the race before Sexton and Webb gained a little separation. Finishing less than three seconds behind Tomac, he kept that rider honest for the entire race.

Coming off his first win of the season, Ken Roczen finished fifth. It was his seventh top-five of the season and it elevated him to fifth in the standings.

Plessinger’s fall took the wind from his sails. He attempted to right his bike after a hard crash, but as it smoked and pinged, he dropped to 13th in the final rundown.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Hunter Lawrence tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 wins each after another dominating ride in the Detroit Supercross race and the results in the points continue to widen. With his fifth win in six rounds and a worst finish of third, Lawrence now has a 35-point advantage over Nate Thrasher with four rounds remaining. Finishes of 14th or better in the final four mains will give him his first 250 championship.

Supercross Results Detroit
Strong starts have been one of the keys to Hunter Lawrence’s success in 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

Jett will have an opportunity to retake his wins’ lead as Supercross heads west for the next two rounds in Seattle and Glendale, Arizona.

Nate Thrasher earned his third second-place finish of the season with a gap of 7.6 seconds to Lawrence. He won the overall in Arlington earlier this season, but a 15th-place finish in the opening round in Houston and 10th in Daytona hurts his championship chances.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier | Lap Chart

Haiden Deegan scored his second podium and fourth top-five in six rounds of his young career. On his way to that finish, he rode aggressively against his teammate Jordon Smith in the heat race. Fans are getting a glimpse of what his on-track personality might be.

Jeremy Martin continues to be the model of consistency. He has not finished worse than sixth or better than fourth in six rounds now and that has allowed him to close to within two points of third in the 250 East championship standings.

Rounding out the top five is Chris Blose, who was pressed into service at the start of the season because of a rash of injuries at Pro Circuit Kawasaki. This is Blose’s first top-five of the season, although he’s steadily improved over the past five rounds.

Click here for 250 Overall results | 250 East Rider Points | 250 Combined Rider Points

Max Anstie entered the race weekend second in the points, but a hard crash in heavy traffic early in the main forced him to retire after two laps. Earning only one point for the round, he plummeted to fifth in the standings.

The news was worse for Smith, who was dropped out of the top nine in his heat after the altercation with Deegan and failed to advance through the LCQ. In the last chance race, he stalled his engine and had to mount a determined charge. He got only as high as seventh in that race after crashing while attempting to make a pass on fourth-place Jack Chambers.

2023 Results

Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Tomac, H Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Tomac, J Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, J Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 8: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Cooper Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s