Tomorrow night, the IZOD IndyCar Series will stage one of the races that I vow to go to someday soon. The Iowa Corn 250 at Iowa Speedway harkens back to the days of short track racing, to which there is an art form. Iowa Speedway is the shortest track on the series calendar, measuring at seven-eighths of a mile. Although most consider short-track oval racing to be the domain of American racers, when Marco Andretti won last year’s race at Iowa – he was the first American to win the event since it began in 2007. Other winners were Dario Franchitti (twice), Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan.
Some of the earlier races at Iowa were not that memorable, but the last two or three have been very good races – especially last year’s edition when Marco Andretti held off Tony Kanaan in a very exciting and memorable battle. The way the new DW12 has raced on ovals so far this season, I expect tomorrow night’s race to be just as good.
Qualifying will be interesting this year at Iowa. Rather than running two qualifying laps; one at a time – there will be three 30-lap heat races based on practice times. The first two heat races will feature drivers with practice speeds that were slower than the eighth quickest time. Each of those races will split the even and odd-numbered positions. Then the drivers that were the eight quickest in practice will race for the pole. Unfortunately, the winners of the first two races don’t transfer to the “main event”, so the best they can hope to start the race is ninth and tenth respectively.
I have mixed emotions regarding this qualifying format. On one hand, I credit INDYCAR for trying something new to spice up qualifying for the fans. On the other hand, it seems slightly gimmicky and it presents potential for tearing up some race cars. Overall however, I credit INDYCAR for giving it a try and I’m looking forward to it. Of course, none of it will be televised by NBC Sports Network until a day later just before the race.
Now that Chevrolet has gotten back into the game, hopefully the talk of “turbogate” will subside. At Milwaukee last week, Chevy dominated – winning the race and placing eight cars into the top-ten. It was predicted that the single turbocharger that Honda employs would be better on tracks with long straightaways, while the twin-turbo Chevy would perform better when quick acceleration is key. This has played out so far and may work to Chevy’s advantage. Although other than the short distance, Iowa’s banked turns bear little resemblance to Milwaukee’s flat paperclip design – so I’m not sure what to expect.
What I do expect is a great race. I just hope that with a 10:00 Eastern starting time, there are enough people still watching it. I know TV dictates starting times, but I question the logic behind this move. I’m fortunate enough to live in the central time zone, but with movers coming to my house at 8:30 the next morning, this isn’t just real convenient for me either.
My pick for last week came close but not close enough – Tony Kanaan finished second. I think I will go with the driver who is quietly putting together an outstanding season. He will give Andretti Autosport their third win in a row at this track and their fourth overall. He is the only driver on the team without a win, but that will change tomorrow night. It’s time for James Hinchcliffe to win his first race and finally give Go-Daddy their long awaited first win as well.
Please Note: As mentioned several times over the last couple of weeks, I’m in the process of moving after being in the same house for ten-plus years. My movers are scheduled to come at 8:30 Sunday morning and Sunday night will be my first night living at the new place. I would like to think I’ll have time to do my usual “Random Thoughts” on tomorrow’s race, but I can’t promise it. I may not even be able to find my computer or carve out enough time to pound something out. Whether I do or not, please bear with me over the next few days until I get somewhat settled. Thanks. – GP