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IndyCar: What Drivers Are Saying about racing at Iowa Speedway this weekend

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Drivers have a lot to say about racing this weekend at Iowa Speedway, the shortest oval on the Verizon IndyCar Series circuit:

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m pumped to head to Iowa. Our win at Road America was great and we feel like we have gained a lot of momentum. We’ve done well at Iowa before and we’re excited to head back. I know the whole No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet team and myself enjoy short-track racing so we’re looking forward to racing in front of a really fun crowd.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Pretty excited and glad to be back in Iowa – it was a good race for me last year. I started 10th and won the (Indy Lights) race so it was a fun race. I’m looking forward to the INDYCAR race on the short oval which is a pretty cool track. I think our team will do a great job there.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “Iowa is one of the funnest little races of the whole year. That track is so exciting; short-track racing in INDYCAR is always awesome. Our test there last week was pretty productive. It’s crazy going to some of these new tracks with the lower downforce and try to wrap your head around it. We learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to getting back there in the Arrow Electronics car for the race as it’s usually a really fun event.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “I think Iowa is going to be a pretty crazy race. I’m still trying to get used to these ovals, especially with Iowa being a high-banked short track. I’m really looking forward to learning something new. The goal for the weekend, like it has been on any oval, is to try to make it to the end and hopefully we can be in the top 10 in the final stint. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, and I think qualifying is going to be very important. I’m pretty confident that everyone on the No. 6 Lucas Oil car will do a good job to get us up front.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “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.”

ED JONES (No. 10 DC Solar Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I’m looking forward to Iowa as it’s a very challenging track. I think it’s gotten quite a bit bumpier from last year as well. We’ll have less downforce on the cars this year, and without testing there like some of the other teams did recently, the learning curve will be steeper. I think we’re going to need to roll off the truck fast in order to have a good start to the weekend here. It’s been a decent run of races here lately, but I know we can perform better and I want to get back to where we were in Detroit in terms of performance.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m looking forward to heading to Iowa this weekend. We didn’t have the best luck at Road America so we’re hungry to have a strong weekend. Short-track racing can be a lot of fun which makes racing at Iowa a blast. The No. 12 Verizon Chevy team has worked hard to put together a great car for this weekend and I’m really excited about it.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Next up, we go to Iowa Speedway, a short oval that’s one of my favorite tracks of the year. It’s a place that keeps you on your toes at all times, and although it’s just under a mile long, it makes for an extremely fast and exciting race. I didn’t test there with the new aero configuration and honestly, I don’t know how the car will handle compared to what we used to have downforce-wise, but I expect it to be a harder race than usual. Being a short track, we’re always running in traffic and hopefully, we have a good balance to keep the No. 14 up front and get another trophy for the hardware collection.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Luther Automotive Group Honda): “We tried to test at Iowa Speedway in May but didn’t get to turn a lap due to the conditions. I think it will be a great race. INDYCAR always manages to put on a great event at Iowa Speedway and I think a lot of that is due to the track design and layout compared to other ovals. We can use a variety of different lines and lanes and that makes it fun. I am looking forward to getting back on track with a new aero design that will require more lifting and possibly even braking for the race. I need a win and we as a team need a win. It’s that simple. To get back into the championship, top-10s seemingly aren’t allowing us to close up any ground. We need to win and Iowa would be a great place to do it. I have always loved racing in Iowa. I find the track makes for a ton of fun for me and I think we can get it done. With a little luck, some speed and good strategy, and we can make it happen. It’s been a very competitive season. As everyone can see, we (the field) are separated by basically nothing every weekend. As a team, we need to continue to push hard to find some gains and try to close the gap on a very talented group of drivers and teams currently.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “We have qualified very well this year including the ovals and the car has been strong in the races, so I am pretty happy about that. However, Iowa’s track is trickier, especially with the lower level of downforce we will use this year and what is expected to be a hot weather race. We, unfortunately, didn’t get an opportunity to test unlike half of the field, so we won’t know what we have until we unload the car and get to it, but I count on my SealMaster crew to give me another very competitive car. At this point in the season, I’m just looking to have a good result and see how things play out. We’ll just need to keep working hard and hopefully catch a break.”

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “I raced at Iowa in the Indy Lights the last couple of years so I’m familiar with the track. It’s certainly an interesting oval with it being so short. I’m not sure what to expect as I have not driven an Indy car there yet, but I’m confident my No. 19 Paysafe Dale Coyne Racing team will once again give me a good car this weekend and we can bounce back from our difficult weekend at Road America two weeks ago.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I am always excited to race at Iowa Speedway and be a part of the Iowa Corn 300. It has always been a track where I have been comfortable and enjoyed racing at. It’s such a small track for our cars and how quick we can run. It’s a constant challenge, both physically and mentally. We were able to test last week and it gave us a good direction before we get back on track on Saturday.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I haven’t raced at Iowa Speedway since 2015 and that was in Indy Lights. I’m looking forward to the challenge of racing here in an Indy car this weekend. A pass can take four to five laps to get done while you’re running side by side, which is pretty unique for us. There’s not a lot of places we get to do that and as a driver, it’s a lot of fun. We tried a lot of things on the car at the test last week and have a good direction to work towards heading into the race. Hopefully, we can have a strong race in the Fuzzy’s Vodka car.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m excited to head to Iowa with the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team. It’s a short track which is really fun and also challenging. The fans there are always so excited to see INDYCAR so we’re ready to get back there to put on a good show while also chasing the win.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): “I’m looking forward to getting back to a short track. At Phoenix, we learned a lot during the race and I think we were pretty competitive toward the end of the race. I know the Carlin team has worked really hard on the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet car since then. We’ve gained a ton of experience since that second race on to just past the midpoint of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. It’s always a great weekend – the Iowa fans come out in droves and with it being the weekend after the Fourth of July, there will probably be some fireworks both off and on the track.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda): “I have a lot of good memories from Iowa coming through the ladder series. It’s a place that’s always challenging to race and that adds to what makes it a good show. We had one of our strongest tests last week there, so I’m really excited for what we can accomplish this weekend in the Relay car.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “Iowa has been one of my favorite ovals since Day 1. I love how short, fast, banked and bumpy it is. We had four very strong cars in the test last week, so hopefully, we can convert that into a big result for the NAPA team in order to get the momentum swinging back in our favor once more.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “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. 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.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “Iowa Speedway is just non-stop cornering with usually the highest lateral G-force loads recorded during the season. I simply like Iowa and hopefully that continues this year with the lower-downforce package which will make it even more challenging. Also, there is a bump in Turn 2 which is tricky but generally it’s a fun, great track and racing there is exciting. It will be a tough race. It’s a lower-downforce package so it’s possibly the lowest one in recent years, so I’m sure it’s going to be very challenging to follow cars. If we could run in the second lane, then it will be quite exciting one but we will see. It’s extremely important to carry good momentum to Iowa and I am sure we will be able to achieve another strong result. We have been a little too unlucky in many circumstances but the last race showed our speed and strength very well in a no-caution, straightforward race so I am looking forward to having another good weekend.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “It’s hard to believe that we’re over halfway through this season already. Last race at Road America was definitely a learning experience for us and I think we all took quite a bit of perspective from that weekend heading into the second half of the season. It’s nice to have a weekend between Road America and Iowa to really regroup and get our heads back into a short oval mindset. I’m actually pretty excited to get back to Iowa. Iowa was the first race I won here (in Indy Lights) in the U.S. and for it to be on an oval with Carlin was pretty special. Even though there’s a big difference between INDYCAR and Indy Lights and everything that goes into it, it’ll be exciting to go back to Iowa with a team (Carlin) who has won at Iowa Speedway every time they have raced there.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “I’m really excited for the Iowa Corn 300 this weekend. We had an extremely productive test last week with the team, so we’re already ahead going into Practice 1 on Saturday. Iowa Speedway always brings a nice crowd, so looking forward to a fun weekend with the Harding Racing team! It should really be a great race.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “Iowa hasn’t been very nice to me the last few years, during the aero kit era, but I’m looking to regain my strength there. We had a strong test last week and we’ll build on that for the race this weekend.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.