Iowa IndyCar post-qualifying quotes, Saturday notes

Photo: IndyCar

NEWTON, Iowa – Here’s a number of notes and additional qualifying quotes from Saturday at the Iowa Corn 300, ahead of tonight’s final practice from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. CT.


  • Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations, told NBC Sports that he hopes the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule will be released “sometime in August,” which follows on a report from NBCSN contributor Robin Miller for earlier this month.
  • Alexander Rossi’s No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda was a busy car in morning practice, for good reason. By running 125 laps, Rossi sought to mileage out his engine – and did so successfully with his Andretti Autosport team in the process of changing it out before final practice. Team strategist Bryan Herta said the team focused on full tank runs while Rossi “wasn’t too happy” with the patches.
  • Sebastien Bourdais made “a lot of changes” to his No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet which improved the car hugely from the test. And he’s done well in coming back at short ovals; he was 24th to ninth at Iowa last year and of course at Milwaukee, the race before that, went from 11th to win the race.
  • The only difference between the two Ed Carpenter Racing cars is their wing and camera mount accents.
  • The four Penske and four Andretti teammates each had media availabilities, although the funniest exchange of the day came when Juan Pablo Montoya – who remains in the orange DeVilbiss colors of his No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet – had to leave unexpectedly.
  • Here’s the exchange:

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, that’s for sure. We didn’t get a win yet. So we really want to — you can go. Go.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He has to go to a drug test. Make sure you get the bag, not the bag on the side.


Josef Newgarden, No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet: “Our car was good but in hindsight wish we had a bit more. Still a great run. Has speed in it. I feel confident in it. I wish we had a tick more. It’s tough when you’re second! I’d rather be fifth than second. We have a great Fuzzy’s car.

“JR (Hildebrand) is great. He’s a diamond. Car was a rocketship last year so had a great base, and he added some pep. Added some things at the test to take it to next level. Figured it out with the bumps. JR is huge. Great teammate. It’s so fortunate to have him to work with.

“My hand is getting there. Not there where I want it. Still a little broken, but fine.”

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet: “I was hoping for a little better to be honest. Thought top five. Missed the balance a bit. It’s been a weird year. We haven’t had consistent cars with all of them on the same pace. I’m getting a little frustrated with… myself. Still feel good with where we are. Can’t quite put our finger on it. I shouldn’t let frustrations boil over. I just set the bar high.”

Max Chilton, No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet: “I was quite shocked to be honest with you, because I could tell on the out lap it was a bit loose! I knew my teammates were lifting… We went to their setup. Thought we should have stayed we were. Loose is not ideal… so on the first lap I saw a 3 (183) and thought, ‘Oh no, it’s not 83, it’s a 73.’ But it was near a pole time! So I kept it lit on the second lap. Jumped on radio, where am I, they said P3 good job. Great to be fastest Ganassi. Must have a good touch around this place. Tomorrow is what counts. We’ll work hard in the 30-minute session. As a rookie that’s a decent result.

“It’s not hugely different. Why it helps. I have the experience of winning last year and speeds aren’t hugely different, I know what it feels like in qualifying.”

Mikhail Aleshin, No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda: “Slippery I would say. Temperature is more hot. So the track was more slippery.”

Graham Rahal, No. 15 Mi-Jack/RLL Honda: “Similar aero package to Phoenix. I think what we face the most is aerodynamic inefficiencies. I think our engine is good. But a lot to overcome. Our competitors are allowed to improve as well.”

Charlie Kimball, No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet: “Pretty good. Reasonably slippery. Surprised at how low grip it was. It was free. Slid around a lot. Started with a good car this morning. Learned a lot from Max who tested last week and Scott who tested in May. Haven’t seen this place in a year and that’s probably a good thing given how the bumps have changed!”

Tony Kanaan, No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet: “It went from a neutral track to an oversteer track. I wasn’t expecting it at all to be honest. We haven’t changed car at all. Same car 17.2 to 17.4. Other series running. Track almost 25 degrees hotter. Caught me by surprise. I don’t know where we will end up, but that was for sure I got out there.

“It’s actually worse now [on the low line] because ARCA ran a lot. I’m comfortable both lines but it will still be pretty tough.

“It’s lot bumpier in 3 and 4. With old tires you have tendency to slide a lot more. And it’s bumpy. A lot will try to run the high line. Low line who can run it, might be a big advantage.

“You can’t compare a night race to a day race. I think everyone will start race conservative. When you pit here, if it’s under green, you lose 3 laps.”

Conor Daly, No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda: “Our test wasn’t great. But we figured out how it would change. Car was sketchy to drive. So stacked on a ton of downforce but we could drive it. To run same lap as Hunter-Reay. We weren’t too far away from Hondas. We know we have a lot more to gain. We were OK today but the next session is the key. For us as tires go away it’s interesting. 1 and 2 is so different than 3 and 4.”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.