We all thought Team Penske would once again be the team to beat during the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season. They had won three of the last four Indy Car championship’s to go along with a dominating season a year ago. Now, Roger Penske owned the series for this season and beyond too.
With the same driver lineup back, would this be a fight amongst teammates for the title?
Simon Pagenaud kept Dixon honest until last weekend in Road America. He finished runner-up in Texas and third in Indy. Then, two finishes outside of the top 10 at Elkhart last weekend with three straight very dismal qualifying performances have the 22 team shaking their heads.
Josef Newgarden has two poles in four tries but only one top five on the year. That’s troublesome.
Then there’s the curious case of Will Power. He was 13th and 20th in the first two races, rebounded for a second place run in the first race at Road America then went full pin ball machine in Race 2 and finished 11th.
Right now, Penske drivers are 3-5-7 in the points with no wins since Portland last Labor Day weekend. They’re only 1-for-7 in fact on wins since last August.
Penske made a major shake up on the NASCAR side entering this season with a team swap of all three Cup organizations. Does he do something on the Indy Car side? Is Power’s job safe? Is he watching over his shoulder for a new Aussie waiting in the wings?
They need to show something this weekend in Iowa. They have two chances and a good past history. Josef Newgarden has led 111 or more laps in four of his last five Iowa starts. In fact, three of his last four have seen him lead 200+ laps in each. He also has four top two finishes in his last six Iowa tries.
“We had such an awesome race there last year in the Hitachi Chevy, so I think we have a good shot to turn it back around with two shots for a win,” said Newgarden. “It’s just one of those places that tend to fit my driving style, so I always feel great racing there. Speedways like Iowa can lead to a lot of close, wheel-to-wheel racing, so the guys have worked hard to put together a great car to help with that. I’m also looking forward to once again seeing fans at Iowa this weekend. They help provide different energy that all of us drivers feed off of, so we’re always happy to see them back at the track.”
Pagenaud, has never scored a podium at Iowa before but does have four straight top eight results though.
Power, has four top 10’s in his last five there with three of his last four being in the top six. But, does he push too hard and find trouble?
“Man, Road America was a rough weekend,” Power said. “We had some issues in the pits, and I made some mistakes on track. We reviewed what we did over the weekend as a team, and the Verizon Chevy guys and I feel much more confident heading into this weekend at Iowa. Ovals can be so much fun to race, but it will be a pretty tiring weekend between the two races and how hot it’s supposed to be. Getting rest between the two races will be key, so that’s something I’m keeping in mind. I’m really excited to get back at it this weekend and turning our luck around.”
This is a make or break weekend for them.