IndyCar doubleheader race weekend schedule for Iowa Speedway

IndyCar weekend schedule Iowa
Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

The NTT IndyCar Series will hold its second consecutive race weekend doubleheader at Iowa Speedway but with a few schedule twists.

After last weekend’s Saturday-Sunday afternoon slate on the Road America road course, IndyCar will race under the lights Friday and Saturday night on Iowa Speedway’s 0.894-mile oval. TV coverage for both nights will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden won IndyCar’s only race at Iowa last year on his way to the 2019 championship. Andretti Autosport has a series-leading seven victories at the Newton, Iowa, track, including three by Ryan Hunter-Reay.

It’s been 10 years (Tony Kanaan, June 20, 2010) since the most recent victory at Iowa for Chip Ganassi Racing, which will be aiming to keep its undefeated streak intact this year.

Scott Dixon won the first three races (Texas Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Road America No. 1), and Felix Rosenqvist scored his first IndyCar victory Sunday at Road America for Ganassi’s fourth consecutive victory to open the 2020 season.

This also will be the second consecutive weekend that fans will be allowed at an IndyCar race. Iowa will have a maximum crowd of about 5,000 in its grandstands.

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule at Iowa Speedway:

(All times are Eastern)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Thursday, July 16

5 p.m.: Paddock load-in for NTT IndyCar Series teams

IndyCar weekend schedule: Friday, July 17

9:30 a.m.: IndyCar garage opens

10 a.m.: IndyCar tech opens

1 p.m.: Driver, team manager meeting (conference call)

2-2:30 p.m.: IndyCar practice for rookies and first-time Iowa drivers (NBC Sports Gold)

2:30-3:30 p.m.: IndyCar practice (NBC Sports Gold)

5:30 p.m.: IndyCar qualifying for both races (first lap Friday lineup, second lap Saturday lineup) (NBC Sports Gold)

8:30 p.m.: IndyCar prerace on NBCSN

8:40 p.m.: Cars to grid

8:58 p.m.: Invocation and national anthem

9 p.m.: IndyCar Iowa race #1 (NBCSN)

9:10 p.m.: Command to start engines

9:15 p.m.: Green flag (250 laps)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Saturday, July 18

Noon: IndyCar garage, tech open

3:30 p.m.: IndyCar practice (NBC Sports Gold)

8:10 pm.: Cars to grid

8:28 p.m.: Invocation and national anthem

8:30 p.m.: IndyCar Iowa race #2 (NBCSN)

8:40 p.m.: Command to start engines

8:45 p.m.: Green flag (250 laps)

10:30 p.m.: Postrace show (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold)

Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.