Kanaan leads opening IndyCar practice at Iowa

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Tony Kanaan made an impressive start to the Iowa Corn 300 weekend at Iowa Speedway by topping the opening Verizon IndyCar Series practice on Saturday morning.

Kanaan arrived in Iowa hoping to go one better than his second place finish at Road America two weeks ago, where he was edged out by Will Power late on.

Opening practice at Iowa Speedway saw a handful of lap times dip below the official track record of 17.2283s, set by Helio Castroneves in 2014.

Kanaan turned in a lap of 17.2197s early in the 75-minute session, averaging a speed of 186.902 mph to finish 0.02 seconds clear of Castroneves at the top of the timesheets, with Josef Newgarden finishing just behind in third for Ed Carpenter Racing.

Although Kanaan cannot claim a new lap record as his time was set in practice, it does suggest that Castroneves’ benchmark will be beaten this weekend.

Scott Dixon rose to fourth place for Chip Ganassi Racing late in the session, edging out series leader Simon Pagenaud in P5. Charlie Kimball finished the session sixth-fastest, followed by KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais and the returning Ed Carpenter. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top 10 positions.

Andretti Autosport arrived at Iowa hoping to continue its six-year winning streak, but suffered a tough start to the weekend when both Marco Andretti and Hunter-Reay suffered spins early in practice.

Andretti lost control at Turn 4 but was able to keep his car out of the wall and return to the pits unscathed. However, Hunter-Reay was less fortunate, bumping the wall with the rear of his car.

“I had traffic in front of me and was trying to complete the final lap of my qualy sim,” Hunter-Reay told NBC Sports.

“Combined with the track and the patches, it being a green track, not a lot of Firestone rubber down, the rear snapped quite a bit earlier than Marco’s did.

“It’s worse down low. Problem is the rear gets over the bumps and it turns around. We just need to get more rubber down. Right now there is nothing down so there’s nothing we can tell at the moment.”

A third yellow was called for debris with 17 minutes remaining in the session, but the track quickly returned to green to allow some late flying laps to be completed.

Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi topped the lap charts by some distance, putting in 125 laps – 35 more than any other driver – in a bid to mileage out his engine. He ultimately finished the session 11th-fastest.


IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”