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.