INDYCAR Pre-Race Media: Iowa Track Trends, favs, sleepers, fades, etc

TRACK: Iowa Speedway (.894 Mile Oval), DISTANCE: 250 Laps (218.75 Miles) Race 1, 300 Laps (262.5 Miles) Race 2


TRACK HISTORY/TRENDS

This is the 16th and 17th races on the Iowa Speedway bullring but first time since 2020 that the NTT INDYCAR Series has been here. That season we saw a doubleheader and this will be the same. Both being in the heat of the day so that’s going to play a major factor. The other day races in Iowa were 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The night races here were 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2019 and 2020.

Plus, Race 1 is 50 laps longer than Race 2, how will that play a role?

  • Just 1 time in 13 races has the pole winner won. Last time out, Simon Pagenaud came from the last row in Race 1 of the 2020 weekend while Josef Newgarden came from the pole a day later. There’s been 1 pole winner all year (St. Pete) and 1 in the last 11 overall.
  • 4 of the last 6 winners have started in the top 3.
  • 3 straight races on the season were won by a 2nd place starter.
  • The night races produced winners from further back. The starting spots of the winners during night races? 17th, 7th, 13th, 9th, 3rd, 23rd and 1st respectively.
  • The starting spots in the day races? 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 15th, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd and 11th respectively.
  • Ganassi won 2 of the 1st 3 years but 0-for-12 since.
  • Andretti won 7 of the 1st 9 races but 0-for-6 since.
  • Penske has won 4 of the last 6 with SPM and ECR taking the other 2.

TRACK COMPARISONS/WHO’S BEEN GOOD ON THEM

World Wide Technology Raceway is the only other comparison to Iowa since it too is a short oval but there’s not much from Gateway that translates to Iowa since they’re different configurations. Phoenix when it was on the schedule was the closest comparison but that race is no longer here and the cars have changed since the last time we went to the west valley Arizona oval.

The thing is, Penske has been the top dog on short ovals in general since 2018 with 7 wins in 10 tries. Josef Newgarden is tops among drivers with winning 5 of those 7 races for Penske himself. No one else has more than 1 in that span.


Is Josef Newgarden the clear favorite this weekend? Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Favorites – Can Penske Get 4th Straight Win?

Josef Newgarden

This is his best track. He’s led 111 or more laps in 5 of his last 7 Iowa starts including three wins, a pair of runner-ups, a fourth, fifth and sixth place result in the last eight tries. He’s won 2 of the last 3 here as well as having scored 3 wins in the last 4 short oval races in general.

Will Power

He was runner-up the last time out and has 4 top sixes in his last six Iowa starts. Somehow though, he’s winless in 13 Iowa tries as well. He finished 3rd last August in Gateway too.

Pato O’Ward

He’s been great in Gateway (3rd, 2nd, 2nd) and was fourth in his first of 2 starts here in 2020.

Scott Dixon

He’s 0-for-15 at Iowa but does have a pair of runner-up finishes in his last three tries and fifth place in the other. Dixon, has 5 top eight’s in his last six Iowa starts. Can he score his 1st win? He enters off of a Toronto victory.


Sleepers

Meyer Shank Racing

Helio Castroneves won for Penske his last time out in 2017 while Simon Pagenaud won in the first race of the 2020 doubleheader weekend and was fourth in Race 2 that year. Pagenaud has six consecutive top eight finishes here including four of which being in the top four at that. The car he’s driving was 7th in both races in 2020 too. On the season, Pagenaud has 5 top 10’s in his last 6 tries.

Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing

Christian Lundgaard may be a rookie but Jack Harvey had a pair of 7th place finishes with MSR in 2020 while Graham Rahal was 3rd in Race 2 of that year for his 4th top 8 in his last 5 Iowa starts. Rahal, has 10 top 10’s in 14 Iowa starts. They enter after finding some speed again in their test at Sebring which translated well over to Toronto.

Marcus Ericsson

His three Iowa finishes are 11th, 9th and 9th respectively. He has 6 straight top 7 finishes on the season.

Felix Rosenqvist

This car was 3rd and 6th respectively in 2020 with Oliver Askew behind the wheel. Rosenqvist has 5 top 10’s in his last 6 races run on the year.


Fades

Andretti Autosport

They’re 0-for-6 since winning 7 of 9 to start Iowa off with and honestly enters with two rookies here in Romain Grosjean and Devlin DeFrancesco who will get a wide eyed experience this weekend. Alexander Rossi has been solid but not great in Iowa. Rossi, has 5 top 10’s in 6 tries with a worst finish of 11th. It’s just that he has no top fives in this span either. Finally, Colton Herta has 1 top 20 in four tries and that was 7th in 2019.

Ed Carpenter Racing

Ed Carpenter’s last six Iowa finishes are – 18th, 12th, 10th, 19th, 15th and 23rd respectively. Rinus VeeKay was only 20th and 17th respectively in his two Iowa starts back in 2020. Conor Daly has 1 top 10 in five tries with a best result of eighth (Race 1, 2020). They tested here and looked good but that wasn’t among many teams.

Alex Palou

He was only 11th and 14th respectively in 2020 with 1 podium in his last 6 starts this season.

Takuma Sato

He was third in 2018 but has been 16th or worse in 8 of his 12 Iowa starts including having scored just 2 top 10’s in that span.


Key Stat

We’ve seen some dominating performances here. Josef Newgarden led 214 laps in his last win in 2020. He also led 245 of 300 in his win in 2019 and 282 of 300 in his 2016 triumph. On top of that, he led 229 laps in a fourth place finish in 2018 too. Furthermore, he led 111 laps in a 2015 runner-up as well.

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