By Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel
The INDYCAR season continues this weekend at Iowa Speedway for the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 and the Indy Lights Mazda Iowa 100 Presented by Cooper Tires. The Open Wheel will be on-site covering the action all weekend so stay tuned to this site and our Twitter page @openwh33l for all of the latest news.
Photo by Parker Hall/The Open Wheel
Indy Lights Preview: Mazda Iowa 100 Presented by Cooper Tires (Entry List), Race – Sunday, July 9, 2017 3:00PM (ET) – The news of the weekend in Indy Lights is the series debut for Chad Boat with Belardi Auto Racing. Chad is the son of former INDYCAR driver Billy Boat and a successful midget driver with NASCAR experience in the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series. The box score from last year’s Indy Lights race at Iowa shows a Top 5 of Serralles, Veach, Jones, Stoneman, and Urrutia. Santiago Urrutia is the only returning driver in that bunch and was strong on race day at the only other oval race this season at the Freedom 100. However, in my opinion Matheus Leist has to be the favorite this weekend based on his performance at Indianapolis and the strength of Carlin at Iowa last year. Carlin had two of the Top 3 cars last year and Leist has been outstanding over the last stretch of races. I expect him to have a strong weekend at Iowa. By that same logic Zachary Claman De Melo could be a factor this weekend as the Carlin man is coming off of the first Lights win of his career at Road America. Championship leader Kyle Kaiser finished P6 at Iowa last year. Colton Herta desperately needs a good result and he could have a chance this weekend as the Andretti car for Dean Stoneman finished in P4 last year. My pick to win: Matheus Leist
Verizon IndyCar Series Preview: Iowa Corn 300, Sunday, July 9, 2017 5:00PM (ET) NBCSN – Andretti Autosport had won six races in a row at Iowa Speedway until Josef Newgarden’s dominant win interrupted that streak last year. However, that still means an Andretti car has won in 6 of the last 7 years and 7 of the 10 races at Iowa Speedway overall. Previous driver experience shows 5 former winners at Iowa in the field in Ryan Hunter-Reay (3), Marco Andretti (1), James Hinchcliffe (1), Tony Kanaan (1), and Newgarden (1). The Top 5 in laps led at Iowa racing this weekend are Kanaan (523), Helio Castroneves (427), Newgarden (393), Hinchcliffe (245), and Scott Dixon (126). Looking at the box scores 2016 and 2015, Newgarden was the only driver to finish in the Top 5 in each of the last two years. Newgarden joins only Power as drivers to finish in the Top 10 at Iowa in each of the last two years. That’s very rare in the Verizon IndyCar Series to see that level of inconsistency in finishers at the same track over a two-year period. Rookie Ed Jones led the first 56 laps of the Indy Lights race at Iowa last year so his solid rookie year could continue. His teammate Esteban Gutierrez will be making his oval racing debut this weekend. My pick to win: Simon Pagenaud – Pagenaud won the first oval race of his career on the short oval at Phoenix International Raceway earlier this season and I think he could do it again this weekend. Pagenaud led 3 times for 11 laps at Iowa last year en route to a P4 finish and has no doubt improved his oval skills since then. He’ll be a strong contender for the win again this weekend.
My fantasy.indycar.com picks: Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and JR Hildebrand – You know my thoughts on Pagenaud. Power has quietly turned himself into one of the best drivers in the field on ovals and has the results to show for it. He won at Texas earlier this year and had a P2 finish behind Pagenaud at Phoenix. He finished at P2 behind Newgarden last year at Iowa and figures to be a factor once again this year. Hunter-Reay has 7 Top 10 finishes in 9 starts at Iowa and has more wins at the track than anyone. JR Hildebrand is an absolute steal at $18 this weekend. He takes over the ECR No. 21 car that dominated the field last year and he put on a show at Phoenix earlier this season. Hildebrand is a near-lock for a Top 5 if he stays out of trouble.