There is a new twist for the fifth edition of the Iowa Corn 250 – they are going to run it under the lights. I’ve always liked the short track in Newton, IA even though I’ve never been there. In fact, at one time or another, I’ve managed to find myself in forty-seven of the forty-eight contiguous states. What’s the one I’m missing? Iowa. Perhaps Pressdog will extend an invitation to his home state and I can attend this race one of these years. In the meantime, I’ll watch it on television.
Speaking of television, it is my understanding that Dan Wheldon will be back in the booth for Versus this Saturday night. I found his commentary from the booth for the Texas race to be very entertaining and enlightening. Versus will be busy on Saturday. They will provide live coverage of the Firestone Indy Lights race, then have a segment of many interviews and time-killing, before the green flag falls for the IZOD IndyCar Series race at 8:00 Central time.
As I mentioned, I like this track. With Richmond gone – at 7/8’s of a mile, it is now the shortest oval on the schedule. Unlike last week’s race at The Milwaukee Mile, this track is not flat. Also unlike last week’s race, I actually expect there to be some people in the stands on Saturday night.
The four previous races have all been pretty well attended, if memory serves me correctly. I wouldn’t think the move to Saturday night would have a negative effect on the crowd, but you never know. The weather hasn’t been particularly balmy in Iowa this week. Last night’s low was to be 55-degrees, which is a far cry from what the drivers, teams and fans faced at the last night race a couple of weeks ago in Texas. Saturday’s forecast calls for scattered thundershowers and a high of only seventy-six. Maybe count on a green-flag temperature of around 70-degrees, which would be about perfect, if the rain will hold off.
Unlike Milwaukee or Indianapolis, there is not a lot of history at this track, although open-wheel racing has a rich history in the state of Iowa dating back to 1915. This track, however, opened in 2006 and IndyCars first raced there in 2007. Dario Franchitti won the first and third races at Iowa Speedway, in 2007 and 2009 respectively. The first time, he was driving for Andretti-Green in the first of his three championship seasons. The second time found Franchitti driving for his current team – Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Dan Wheldon won the second race in 2008, while driving for Ganassi. Tony Kanaan won last year’s edition in what ended up being his final year at Andretti Autosport and also his last victory.
Before last year’s victory, Tony Kanaan had very poor luck at Iowa Speedway. His best finish before his 2010 win was a fourteenth place finish in 2009. The three races prior to 2010 saw Kanaan crash out of each one.
Tony Kanaan had a fast car all weekend at Milwaukee. He had put himself in position to win, but a rare careless mistake took himself out of the race while leading late in the race. He is hungry for that first victory for his new team – KV Racing Technology – Lotus.
Common sense would dictate that Dario Franchitti will win the race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night. He is tied for the points lead, is probably driving better than at any point in his career, he has won half of the races run at the track and so has his team. Team Penske has not been very Penske-like lately. Kanaan is driving for a team that has not won a race in IZOD IndyCar Series competition, and his team from last year can’t get out of their own way. Dario Franchitti winning this race for Target Chip Ganassi Racing seems to be the most obvious choice. That is why I’m picking Tony Kanaan to win this race for the second year in a row.
Based on my recent track record, I should pick Franchitti to win. That will make it certain that he won’t. But if you’ll recall, I correctly picked Kanaan to win the race at Iowa last year. I just have a feeling, he is going to finally get that first win for his new team. We’ll see if I’m right, tomorrow night.
Enjoy the race!