INDYCAR Preview – Iowa Corn Indy 300

Photo: IndyCar

A busy summer stretch for the Verizon IndyCar Series continues this weekend with the Iowa Corn Indy 300 (Sunday July 8, 2:00 p.m. ET). Sunday’s 300-lap outing at the .875-mile oval in Newton Iowa will be the second and final short oval event of the IndyCar season, following April’s Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway.

April’s event gave an indication for how the 2018 universal aero kit handles short ovals – the show at ISM Raceway was definitely an improvement. Sunday’s race at Iowa Speedway should thoroughly entertaining – the Iowa “bull ring” has historically been one of the best races of the IndyCar calendar, and there’s no reason to think this year’s edition will be any different.

Talking points ahead of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 are below.

Championship Rivals Look to Close on Dixon

Scott Dixon leads the IndyCar championship entering Texas. Photo: IndyCar

Scott Dixon leads the IndyCar championship standings with 393 points, 45 points clear of his next closest rival.

However, behind Dixon, the remainder of the top five are incredibly tight. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi are tied with 348 points. Josef Newgarden sits fourth on 343. Will Power sits fifth with 328.

Those four currently have the best shot at catching Dixon – sixth place Graham Rahal sits 115 points back of Dixon and would need some help to gain substantial ground.

All told, there are five drivers currently in the championship picture, and second through fifth are well within range of Dixon entering Iowa. It will be all but impossible for anyone other Dixon to leave Iowa in the points lead – 45 is the maximum points swing, meaning either Hunter-Reay or Rossi could tie Dixon after Sunday’s race – but anyone from second through fifth could make a big dent in the championship lead.

Andretti Autosport Hopes for Return of Iowa Prowess

NEWTON, IA – JULY 12: Ryan Hunter-Reay driver of the #28 Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda celebrates after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB at the Iowa Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Andretti Autosport has seven wins at Iowa Speedway, including six in a row between 2010 and 2015. That stretch of six in a row saw wins form drivers Tony Kanaan (2010), Marco Andretti (2011) Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012, 2014, and 2015), and James Hinchcliffe (2013) – Kanaan also won the series’ first race at Iowa in 2007.

However, the 2016 and 2017 races have been a struggle for Michael Andretti led squad. Rossi was the only Andretti Autosport to finish in the top 10 in 2016, and although Hunter-Reay finished a solid third last year, Rossi was the next best Andretti driver in 11th.

However, despite the recent struggles, Hunter-Reay is confident of another strong performance, highlighting a recent test as evidence that they’re regaining their short oval form.

“Iowa Speedway is certainly a special place for me and the team as a whole. I love short oval racing, but Iowa is one of my favorites,” said Hunter-Reay. “We’ve had lots of success here in the past, winning three times, however with a new car and a completely different aero package we have our work cut out for us to develop a new setup that will suit this car. We’re coming off a productive test, so we’re looking to keep the momentum we have rolling into the Iowa Corn 300 weekend and bring home another good result for the DHL Honda.”

And if Hunter-Reay and Rossi are to gain ground on Dixon, they’ll need every bit of that short oval prowess at Iowa.

Can Someone Score a Breakthrough Win?

Helio Castroneves ended a winless streak that dated back to 2014 by winning last year’s Iowa Corn Indy 300. And a number of drivers enter this year’s race on elongated winless streaks.

Tony Kanaan is the most prominent name on that list – his last win came in 2014 at the season-ending 500-mile race at Auto Club Speedway. Kanaan has a strong history at Iowa – he has won there twice – and A.J. Foyt Racing has been much stronger this year than in years past, leaving Kanaan in position to possibly end that winless streak.

However, several other drivers could be in for breakthrough wins of their own.

Robert Wickens has been knocking on the door all year, and he nearly won at ISM Raceway in April. His Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate James Hinchcliffe led laps that night before finishing sixth, and he finished fourth at Texas Motor Speedway, so Hinchcliffe could also be a contender to end a winless streak of his own that dates back to last year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Simon Pagenaud sits eighth in the championship, but he hasn’t won since last year’s season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Takuma Sato is coming off his best result of 2018 after finishing fourth in the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America. Ed Jones has four top 10s in a row, including a podium in Race 2 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, and he was running second at ISM Raceway before he crashed.

In short, a number of drivers who haven’t won yet in 2018 are knocking on the door, and one of them could knock it down on Sunday.


  • Sunday’s race will start much earlier in the day (2:00 p.m. ET, 1:00 p.m. local time) than last year, which started at 5:00 p.m. ET. The impact of running in the heat of the mid-afternoon will be an unknown heading into the weekend.
  • Matheus Leist dominated last year’s Indy Lights Presented by Coopers race at Iowa Speedway, leading 69 laps on the way to victory. He is yet to finish in the top 10 in an IndyCar race, though, but Iowa may be his opportunity yet for a breakout day.
  • Marco Andretti won at Iowa back in 2011 and finished second in 2012. Since then, though, his best finish is seventh (2015) and is one of only top 10s (ninth in 2013 is the other). He’ll look to reverse his fortune there on Sunday.

The Final Word…

From points leader Scott Dixon, who is looking for his first Iowa Speedway win:

“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 this little bullring style track. You really have to be on your game with traffic and the quick lap times. I really love this event and especially the fans that attend – they really love Indy car racing and show their support. We’ve had a few poles here over the years but the best we’ve finished so far is third – hopefully, we can change that this time.”

Here’s the IndyCar Weekend Schedule:

At-track schedule:

Saturday, July 7
11:15 a.m ET – 12:15 p.m. (10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. local time) – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, Livestreamed on RaceControl.IndyCar.Com
3:00 p.m. ET (2:00 p.m. local time) – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (single-car format, two laps each), airs LIVE on NBCSN
6:45 p.m. ET – 7:45 p.m. (5:45 p.m – 6:45 p.m. local time) – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, Livestreamed on RaceControl.IndyCar.Com

Sunday, July 8
2:00 p.m. ET (1:00 p.m. local time) – NBCSN on air
2:35 p.m. ET (1:35 p.m. local time) – Iowa Corn 300 (300 laps/268.2 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Here’s last year’s top 10

1. Helio Castroneves
2. JR Hildebrand
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay
4. Will Power
5. Graham Rahal
6. Josef Newgarden
7. Simon Pagenaud
8. Scott Dixon
9. Tony Kanaan
10. James Hinchcliffe



IndyCar champion Will Power completes ‘Victory Lap’ at ceremony in Indianapolis

Will Power Victory Lap
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power went on his “Victory Lap” last week to celebrate his second career championship as the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series champion.

It began with several media interviews in Monterey, California, the day after he won the championship with a third-place finish in the Sept. 11 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

From there, it was off to Los Angeles for more interviews and personal appearances that included a VIP Tour at the Petersen Automotive Museum, several appearances on SiriusXM and lunch at The Ivy, where the Team Penske IndyCar Series driver was treated to Wagyu Beef.

“It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had in my life,” Power told

From L.A. back to Power’s North Carolina home, near Team Penske’s home base of Mooresville, there was one stop left on Sept. 17 — the Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, an invitation-only banquet where Power and his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet crew at Team Penske were honored for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

They didn’t even have to check into a hotel and spend another night on the road. Power and his team left on a Team Penske plane from the Statesville, N.C., airport at 4 p.m. ET Saturday to fly to Indianapolis. On arrival an hour later, a limo bus took the team to IMS.

Power led the 2022 season with five NTT P1 Awards for pole, earning the NTT P1 Award as the best qualifier of the season for the fifth time in his career. Power also made history with his 68th career pole, breaking the all-time mark held by the legendary Mario Andretti.

Power and Scott Dixon also became just two of only five drivers to complete every lap of every race in IndyCar Series history.

“What a year,” Power said as he was awarded his personal Astor Cup trophy (the second in his collection after the 2014 championship. “What a phenomenal year coming off one of my worst seasons personally. We came back with a vengeance.

“I want to thank Roger and Kathy Penske for everything they have done for me over the years. I wouldn’t be standing here and have the numbers I have without what Roger has done for me. I’m given a car every week that is capable of winning the pole, races, championships, and Indianapolis 500s. I’m so grateful for that.

“Also, to Greg Penske, you are there every week now at every event and I know we will be in good hands moving forward with the Penske Family.”

There are many on Power’s team and at home, that helped support Power throughout his career. None is bigger than Power’s wife, Liz, who told Power before the season that he would win the championship and break Andretti’s record.

“I must thank my wife. I’m so lucky to have a wife with that crystal ball that can tell me what is going to happen,” Power said. “I can’t think you enough, babe. I love you so much and you have been a big support to me my whole career. We’ve been together 17 years, and I’ve been in the series 17 years. She has been such a huge support to me. The mother of our child and she is a fantastic mother.

“She can’t tell the future. She just had faith in me.”

Liz Power’s premonition came true and that allowed Power and his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet team to celebrate Penske’s 17th IndyCar championship and 42nd title in the racing team’s history.

“The 12 crew this year, I’ve never had such a great group of guys,” Power said. “Trevor Lacasse (chief mechanic) is such a calm guy, but he does such a meticulous job on the preparation of the car. He is very, very good at keeping the whole crew happy. It feels as if there is no pressure on us. That’s a huge part in getting the most out of people. It was our first year together with you as a crew chief. What a great year to start our relationship.

“Dave Faustino (Power’s longtime engineer), we’ve worked together for 15 years. He’s almost like a wife to me, a partner … apart from sleeping together. We have a very good working relationship. Sorry Dave, I’m an awkward person and you are not.

“The things we have been through in our years together, it’s crazy that we continually improve and get better. We are standing on the podium after winning the championship and we are talking about the car, the race, and the tires. We weren’t talking about the championship.

“We never stop. The other boys were laughing at us, but I’m already thinking about next year.

“Ron Ruzewski (Team Penske IndyCar Managing Director and strategist) on the radio, always calm. He has actually made me a calm person. I rarely get upset on the radio anymore.”

Power also recognized the fans who helped boost attendance at many venues on the schedule this season as NBC Sports enjoyed its largest IndyCar audience yet.

“This series is growing,” Power said. “With open wheel racing now so popular because of Formula One, it’s really our time to push and put money behind it and go now and take IndyCar to another level because we have the best racing product in the world.

“I have to thank my teammates and (Team Penske president) Tim Cindric. I can’t tell you how hard we push each other. We are ultracompetitive and love each other and push each other hard, so thank you.”

Power won the championship by 16 points over hard-charging teammate Josef Newgarden, who finished second in the standings for the third year in a row.

“Overall, I’m filled with a lot of pride for our team and what we were able to do this year,” Newgarden said in his banquet address. “Any year that you step in the championship, you can easily see the challenges it presents everybody.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for the teams and drivers. To be a part of it, make it through it and for us at Team Penske, to topple it, is a very big deal. We’re all competitive.

“The tough thing about being in a championship fight, especially with teammates is we all want to be the best. That’s how it should be. We are competitive people and want to be the best. But it’s a team sport.

“Will, tremendous season, great, great job. I think the world of everybody on our team. It’s a big group. I’m so happy for all of you on the 12-car crew. There is so much we can take into next year.”

Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was unable to attend the banquet because of the Goodwood Festival in England but sent congratulations to Power via a video message.

“I really want to congratulate Will Power,” Dixon said. “You drove a tremendous season this year. Even with some of the lows that you had, some of the mistakes with qualifying, you bounced back tremendously. I know how tough these championships are and to see you do it in the style that you did it in the last race of the season, massive congratulations.”

Power’s championship formula included one victory, nine podiums and 12 top-five finishes. Teammate Josef Newgarden was second in the championship with five wins but only six podiums.

Cindric saluted Power’s season in accepting the championship team owner award.

“Will, you took it to another level this year,” Cindric said. “You are the complete package. You completed every lap, had nine podiums, finished out of the top 10 just four times, broke Mario Andretti’s record, and you did it all without cussing at the officials on national TV.

“One complaint I do has is while most of us think you might be from another planet, you never told us your wife was a fortune teller.”

Cindric also honored the seasons of Penske drivers Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who won three times in his second full season (“You are one of only two full-time IndyCar drivers that has driven for us in the past 23 years that hasn’t won an Indy 500 or an IndyCar championship. Your time is coming.”).

Kyle Moyer was named team manager of the year (his fifth time and Penske’s sixth). Pennzoil presented Lacasse with the chief mechanic of the year for the first time, the sixth time for Team Penske. The No. 12 crew also won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for the most pit stop performance award points in 2022.

Power, Newgarden and McLaughlin delivered nine of Chevrolet’s series-leading 11 victories this season, helping Chevy win the Manufacturer Award for the seventh time since it returned to the series in 2012 and the first time since 2017. Jim Danahy, U.S. vice president, Competition Motorsports Engineering for Chevrolet, accepted the award on behalf of his team.

Christian Lundgaard was honored as the 2022 NTT IndyCar rookie of the year. Lundgaard, from Denmark, scored one podium, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He edged David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD by 18 points in the standings for first-year series drivers.

Christian Lundgaard (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

“It’s been a tough season and looking at how it panned out, we struggled so much at the beginning of the season and how we were able to turn it around means so much to me and the team,” Lundgaard said. “It’s the one thing that you only get one shot at. I’m happy to have it.

“Being the first Dane at the Indy 500 certainly helps. Competing here for me is quite important and also special. To win this award and to be here in future years means so much to me. I have a chance to compete for wins and championships.

“This team gave me this opportunity at this track one year ago. We came back and got redemption. We got our first podium here. This year was 40 years ago that Bobby Rahal won the same award. It’s pretty special to keep it among the team.”

Sweden’s Linus Lundqvist was honored as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion after a dominant season for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Lundqvist won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb. HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing owners Henry and Daiva Malukas accepted the team championship.

“I’m very proud of that,” Lundqvist said. “It’s cool to see. We are starting to look to the future, and this might not be doing too bad. It’s been great. As most of you can guess with Henry and Daiva Malukas (team owners), it’s been an incredible journey. So much fun that we’ve had. To be on the grid this year was so much of a struggle for us. I didn’t even know I would be doing this until January.

“To be able to pull out the season that we had, I cannot thank this team enough. We will celebrate this for a long time. I’m so happy and proud about that.”

Outgoing IndyCar Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Geoffrey Billows also was honored as he is leaving that role while battling cancer.

“When I think of Dr. Billows, I think of two words,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said. “One is selfless and the other is tough. He’s gone through a lot these last couple of years, and he didn’t want anybody to know. He’s an amazing man, and we are very grateful for what you have done.”

Dr. Geoffrey Billows with IndyCar president Jay Frye (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

Billows was presented with a framed checkered flag signed by all drivers in the series as well as other IndyCar officials and dignitaries.

“I was not expecting this at all,” Billows said. “This means so much for me to be part of this family for the past 30 years. I’ve been presented with opportunities I never thought I would ever have. I can’t tell you how much I love all of you guys and care for all of you guys.

“Thank you so much. I want to also thank my wife, Tammy, who has been a pillar of strength as I continue on this journey with cancer for the past two years as well. You will still see me as a consultant because I love this too much to quit altogether.”

When the evening concluded, Team Penske boarded a bus to the airport for the short return flight to Statesville. They were home by midnight.

Power’s Victory Lap was complete.

“The best thing about this is I get to sleep in my own bed tonight,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500