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.”

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s

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After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jason Anderson has back-to-back podiums to his credit and sits second in the Power Rankings. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.

Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.

MORE: Eli Tomac rebounds from Anaheim 2 crash with Houston win

Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.

Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.

After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Eli Tomac
[3 Main; 3 Heats Wins]
85.20 2 1
2 Jason Anderson
[2 Heat Wins]
82.60 4 2
3 Cooper Webb 82.10 3 0
4 Ken Roczen 81.70 1 -3
5 Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat Wins]
80.70 6 1
6 Dylan Ferrandis 71.60 5 -1
7 Aaron Plessinger 71.30 8 1
8 Justin Barcia 70.10 7 -1
9 Justin Cooper 68.00 NA
10 Adam Cianciarulo 67.40 9 -1
11 Joey Savatgy 61.20 10 -1
12 Marvin Musquin 61.00 10 -2
13 Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat Win]
58.75 11 -2
14 Christian Craig 57.20 13 -1
15 Colt Nichols 56.50 14 -1
16 Dean Wilson 49.30 15 -1
17 Justin Hill 39.67 18 1
18 Shane McElrath 36.33 22 4
19 Brandon Scharer 34.00 21 2
20 Logan Karnow 33.33 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.

Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jordon Smith’s last podium before Houston came four years ago in Detroit. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.

Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.

Supercross 250 Points

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.

Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.

Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
95.00 NA
2 Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
90.50 NA
2 Max Anstie – E 90.50 NA
4 Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
89.13 1 -3
5 Haiden Deegan – E 81.50 NA
6 Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 2 -4
7 Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 3 -4
7 Michael Mosiman – E 77.00 NA
7 Jeremy Martin – E 77.00 NA
7 Tom Vialle – E 77.00 NA
11 Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
76.75 4 -7
12 Chance Hymas – E 74.50 -12
13 Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
73.75 5 -8
14 RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
70.00 6 -8
15 Max Vohland – W 69.29 7 -8
16 Cullin Park – E 66.00 NA
17 Chris Blose – E 65.50 NA
18 Derek Kelley – W 63.75 8 -10
19 Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 9 -10
20 Pierce Brown – W 61.29 10 -10

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage