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Gutierrez: ‘Complex’ ovals will take time to adapt to

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For the first time since what is now the INDYCAR Grand Prix in mid-May, the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda will have the same driver on board for consecutive race weekends, as Esteban Gutierrez continues at Iowa after also being at Road America.

Gutierrez will be in his UNIFIN-backed car at Iowa Speedway this weekend for the Iowa Corn 300, for what will be his oval debut.

The Mexican driver has raced on a street course at Belle Isle Park in Detroit and a natural terrain road course at Road America but now steps into his biggest challenge yet, running on the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway.

His oval debut comes after a test last week with fellow rookie Ed Jones, and Gutierrez was impressed by the challenge of running flat out on an oval.

“It’s great to approach the race weekend having done some testing at the track. Obviously, it’s a completely new racing style for me. An oval seems very basic from the outside but it’s actually quite complex,” Gutierrez admitted in the team’s pre-race release.

“I really enjoyed it at the test and I’m very excited to do my first oval race at Iowa. It will definitely take some time for me to adapt, especially racing with other cars around. That will be an interesting experience.

“I’m looking forward to it. It was really fun to drive on the oval, I think it’s very nice how you can really feel every change, every movement in the car because you are on the limit for so long that you are able to feel everything from the car. It’s given me a lot more knowledge about the Indy car.”

Coverage for qualifying of the Iowa Corn 300 takes place at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday with race coverage Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.

Will Power nips Jack Harvey at finish to pace Road America practice

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Will Power led the only IndyCar Road America practice of the weekend Saturday, shooting to the top of the chart on his 22nd and final lap of the session at 1 minute, 46.0021 seconds in his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet.

Dixon knocked Jack Harvey’s No. 60 Dallara-Honda from the top spot (which would have marked the first time that a Meyer-Shank Racing car led practice).

Josef Newgarden, Power’s Team Penske teammate, was third, followed by Felix Rosenqvist and Ryan Hunter-Reay (who went off course late in the session but sustained no damage).

Alex Palou, Colton Herta, Graham Rahal, defending race winner Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward rounded out the top 10 in the practice that preceded a Saturday-Sunday race weekend doubleheader for IndyCar at Road America.

PRACTICE RESULTS: Click here to see who was fastest in the session

RACE INFORMATION: What you need to know for today’s REV Group Grand Prix

RATED ROOKIE: Rinus VeeKay rebounding well from a tough debut

IndyCar tested some new cooling devices with cars from Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske. Several drivers have said the cockpit heat caused by the new aeroscreen was stifling during last week’s GMR Grand Prix, and IndyCar repositioned drink bottles this weekend to keep liquids cool. The pieces tried by IndyCar during the Road America practice won’t be available during the races Saturday and Sunday at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, road course.

Scott Dixon, who is seeking to open the season with his third consecutive IndyCar victory, was 15th fastest in the 75-minute session. Other notables in Road America practice: Marco Andretti (12th), Simon Pagenaud (19th).

Power is aiming for his second consecutive pole position after qualifying first last week on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Qualifying for the REV Group Grand Prix Race #1 will take place at 2:15 p.m. ET (NBCSNNBC Sports Gold).

The broadcast of the IndyCar race at Road America will begin at 5 p.m. on NBCSN.