Five things to watch for in Iowa 300

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The NTT IndyCar Series visits its third oval of the season as they hit the short track of Iowa Speedway. Simon Pagenaud won the Indy 500 with Josef Newgarden victorious on the fast 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway. Oval tracks can be unpredictable, so this week could produce another new winner.

Last week’s watchlist was quite accurate, predicting that Newgarden and Alexander Rossi would finish close to one another (they were one position apart), that Scott Dixon would rebound into the top five (he finished second), and that Pagenaud would make up points on the leaders (he won).

Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday

  1. Newgarden enters the Iowa race with a current three-race streak of top-fives this season. Newgarden should easily add to his run of strong results since he has finished sixth or better in his last five Iowa races.
  2. Graham Rahal has a great chance to keep his current five-race, top-10 streak alive this week. He has eight such finishes in 11 races on this lightning fast short track.
  3. Last week’s suggestion that Newgarden and Rossi would finish close to one another proved accurate so it’s time to double down. Newgarden’s fourth-place finish was one spot short of Rossi in third. In the past three races, Newgarden and Rossi have not finished more than two positions different and can be expected to  run together again at Iowa.
  4. James Hinchliffe came close to cracking the top five for the first time in 2019 at Toronto. Hinchliffe’s sixth-place finish there was his third of the season. Now it’s on to Iowa where he is the defending winner from 2018; he also won in 2013. Those are his only two top-fives in seven attempts on this track.
  5. If Tony Kanaan is going to get a second top-10 this season, Iowa is a good venue for it to occur. Seven of Kanaan’s last nine races on this track have ended in results of ninth or better included a five-race streak of podium finishes from 2010 through 2014.

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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.