IndyCar setup sheet: Iowa Speedway

IndyCar setup sheet: Iowa Speedway
IndyCar setup sheet: Iowa Speedway

What: Hy-Vee Homefront 250 & Hy-Vee One Step 250 / Races 11 and 12 of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series

Where: Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa – 0.875-mile tri-oval

When: Saturday, July 22, 3:00pm ET (green flag 3:06pm ET) & Sunday, July 23, 2:00pm ET (green flag 2:30pm ET)

The NTT IndyCar Series takes on into its only double-header event of the season this weekend, and the pair of 250-lap races on the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway tri-oval could prove make-or-break for those with championship aspirations.

Heading to the Corn Belt, championship leader Alex Palou holds a 117-point lead over his nearest challenger, Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon. But with only seven rounds remaining, including Iowa’s short-track showdowns, and a maximum of 54 points available from every race, it’s win-or-bust time for the Spaniard’s increasingly distant chasers.

Some good news for those in Palou’s wake? His four Iowa starts have delivered only one top-10 finish. That’s a sliver of hope for Dixon, third-placed Josef Newgarden (Team Penske), and long-shot contenders Marcus Ericsson (CGR) and Pato O’Ward (Arrow McLaren), but it will take more than an indifferent weekend for the 2021 champ to significantly change the narrative.

For Dixon, or four-time Iowa winner Newgarden, or 2022 Race 2 victor O’Ward, it will take a near-perfect weekend to maintain a realistic challenge – which is something the bullring has been reticent to deliver so far. Last year, Newgarden (below) lined up second for Saturday’s race, then put on a masterclass to lead 208 laps and cruise to the victory. A day later, he started from the pole, led another 148 laps, but backed it into the wall just past three-quarters distance…

Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment

Iowa Speedway’s variable banking makes the track drive like a much bigger superspeedway – as in, it’s fast. In 2022, Team Penske’s Will Power took both poles, nudging 18 seconds for those laps and averaging more than 178mph. He doubled down on fastest race laps, too, posting a 165.410mph speed in Saturday’s Race 1 and 167.415mph in Sunday’s Race 2.

Due to the short lap time, high cornering loads and near-endless traffic, “The World’s Fastest Short Track” is exceptionally demanding both physically and mentally on drivers, with any momentary lapse of concentration often putting a car into the wall. If the caution count stays low, expect a three-stop strategy to be the way to go, but Dixon did grab a fifth-place finish in 2022 – last of the lead-lap finishers – with four stops in the books.

You can follow all the practice and qualifying action on Peacock on Friday, July 21, and Saturday, July 22, with NBC your go-to location for Race 1 on Saturday, July 22, and Race 2 on Sunday, July 23. And to get even closer to it all, grab the best seat in the house with the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA and its 14 race day live onboard cameras.

TUNE IN

Friday, July 21 / 4:30pm – 6:00pm ET – Practice 1 – Peacock

Saturday, July 22 / 9:30am – 10:30am ET – Qualifying – Peacock

Saturday, July 22 / 3:00pm – 5:00pm ET – RACE 1 – NBC

Sunday, July 23 / 11:05am – 11:30am ET – Warmup – Peacock

Sunday, July 23 / 2:00pm – 5:00pm ET – RACE 2 – NBC

* All sessions and the race are also available as audio commentary on SiriusXM and INDYCAR Radio. Plus, catch the Race 1 pre-race show on SiriusXM and INDYCAR Radio, 2:30pm – 3:00pm ET on Saturday, July 22.

Ride along with the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA

Taking you inside the action, 14 drivers will be carrying in-car cameras. During the race, you can live-stream every one of them with the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA. You choose who you ride along with, and you can switch drivers at any time. The App’s free to download for fans worldwide and you can find out more HERE. If you’re not already onboard, take your viewing experience to a whole new level HERE.

Bringing you the onboard action from the Hy-Vee Homefront 250 and Hy-Vee One Step 250 are…

Josef Newgarden / No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet
Newgarden sits 126 points behind runaway championship leader Alex Palou, with just those seven races remaining and a maximum 54 points up for grabs at each, meaning Iowa’s double header is something of a pivotal weekend for the 2023 Indy 500 winner. A good weekend – make that an excellent weekend – and he’s still chasing the Spaniard. Anything less, and hereon in, he’s battling for best of the rest. As noted, last year, he utterly dominated Race 1 in Iowa to take his fourth career IndyCar win on the bullring, then led 148 laps before crashing heavily in Race 2. The four-time Iowa winner will definitely be one of the drivers to beat again, but will it be enough? 

Pato O’Ward / No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet
With 10 races in the books, the Arrow McLaren driver has been on the podium four times in 2023, but is yet to stand on the top step. If that’s going to change imminently, Iowa is as good a place as any. When it comes to ovals, the spectacular Mexican is king of the clutch move, and even better if the track gets slick in the steamy heat of the Corn Belt. Last year, he finished second to Josef Newgarden in Race 1, before leading the last 65 laps in Race 2 for his second win of the season (below). Is a repeat on the cards?

Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

Scott McLaughlin (RACE 1 ONLY) / No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet
The Kiwi’s yet to win on an oval, but Iowa Speedway could be the place where that changes. Last year was his first time racing on the shortest track on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule, but qualifying fifth, then finishing third in Race 2 confirmed an instant affinity with the place. Results-wise, the Team Penske driver’s been a top-10 ever-present since the Indy 500, but could do with another big weekend to regain his early-season momentum. Second time at Iowa, this could be it.

Will Power (RACE 2 ONLY) / No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet
Since the Indy 500, the reigning NTT IndyCar Series champ has been locked in bad race-good race mode, with podiums in Detroit and Mid-Ohio countered by finishes outside of the top-10 in Elkhart Lake and Toronto – the latter coming after a late-race splash ‘n’ dash stop ended his chase for the final podium stop. Power’s never won at Iowa, but he’s been on the podium plenty, including third and second last year. And if the undulating results continue, he’s due a decent weekend this time around, too.

Christian Lundgaard / No. 45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
The NTT IndyCar Series’ newest winner (below) heads to Iowa after a defining weekend on the streets of Toronto – pole, 54 of 85 laps led, and an almost 12-second margin of victory over IndyCar points leader Alex Palou. Momentum means so much in this series, and despite having only seven oval starts on his resume, expect the Dane to be in the mix this weekend. A 10th-place finish in last year’s Iowa Race 1 shows it’s a track he gets.

Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

Graham Rahal / No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is firing again on the road and street courses, but can it ride its new-found form into Iowa Speedway bullring? Confidence and momentum say, yes it can. Results wise, Graham Rahal has practically lived in the top 10 since it was added to the schedule, so give him even a whiff of a contending car and he could be in the mix for his first top-5 finish of the season.

Kyle Kirkwood / No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda
Last year’s Race 1 at Iowa Speedway delivered the best oval finish of the Long Beach GP-winning sophomore’s IndyCar career thus far. That it was only 15th perhaps shows the learning curve that the Andretti Autosport driver’s still on away from the street and road courses. Then again, no Andretti driver has finished on an oval podium during the last two seasons, so it’s all relative. With two chances to put a good run together this weekend, will we see Kirkwood’s first IndyCar oval top-10 finish?

Felix Rosenqvist / No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet
After a podium in Detroit, it’s since been a frustrating run of results for the Arrow McLaren driver. Last year’s Iowa weekend was a mixed bag for the Swede, but did deliver a seventh-place finish in Race 2. If Arrow McLaren can unload somewhere in the ballpark, this could be a weekend that starts to restore some momentum for Rosenqvist.

Alexander Rossi / No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet
After 10 races with Arrow McLaren, that first front-to-back big weekend continues to elude Rossi (below). After a run of top-10 finishes stretching all the way back to Barber, and including an Indy GP podium, Toronto was a weekend to forget as he started 26th after a wet-to-damp qualifying and was caught in the track-blocking opening-lap melee, before recovering to a lapped 16th. His eight Iowa starts with Andretti Autosport included three sixth-place finishes, but nothing higher. A couple more top 10s this time around, and perhaps even a top five, would certainly be a booster.

Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

Colton Herta / No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda
Fresh off a third-place finish on the streets of Toronto – incredibly, his first podium of the 2023 season – can Herta maintain the momentum in the switch of mindset to Iowa’s short oval? In five IndyCar starts there, he’s yet to crack the top 10 or lead a lap, but a pole and a podium in his Indy Lights days say he knows his way around the place, so don’t rule him out of contention – this could just be the weekend when it all clicks…

Romain Grosjean / No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda
The Frenchman’s season continues to unravel, with Toronto adding another race-ending incident – this one when the steering wheel slipped out of his hands while running 12th at half distance. It feels a long time since those back to back second places in Long Beach and Barber, but can Grosjean start to put things back on track in Iowa? Two top-10 finishes in his first starts last year showed he can get around the place, and he’s not averse to an audacious move or two on the series’ shorter ovals. If he clears his mind of what’s been going on the last few weeks and can click into the short oval-spec Grosjean we’ve already seen, he could be the revelation of the weekend.

Conor Daly / No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda
With Simon Pagenaud still recovering from his Mid-Ohio barrel rolls and Toronto stand-in and IndyCar debutant Tom Blomqvist not following that excursion with an oval debut, Daly gets a second run out with Meyer Shank Racing. He was an eighth-place finisher at Iowa with Carlin in 2020, and subs in MSR’s No. 60 off yet another strong showing in the Indy 500. A top-10 contender at least this weekend, and maybe even stronger?

Agustin Canapino / No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet
After matching his best NTT IndyCar Series result with a 12th-place finish in Toronto last weekend, the Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie (below) gets ready to tick the box on his first career short-oval races. The Argentinean has proved a quick study on open-wheel racing in general and, as an impressively composed Month of May at Indy showed, oval racing in particular. A couple of top-15 results would be impressive, but a top-10 might not be such a reach. Watch this space.

Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

Ed Carpenter / No. 33 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
The boss continues his ongoing role as third ECR entry at the NTT IndyCar Series’ oval races. Although his best recent results have come on the faster ovals, Carpenter knows how to dig out a result at Iowa, including a couple of top-five finishes. It’s largely been a season to forget for ECR, but a top-10 or two this weekend would be a real booster.

Jack Harvey / No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Like his RLL teammates, Harvey’s feeling the surge in the program’s momentum, if not seeing it in his results just yet – and being a major player in the opening lap melee in Toronto last weekend didn’t help his cause. Iowa’s been good for him in the past, with a pair of seventh-place finishes in 2020, so could it be the scene of his first top-10(s) of 2023?

The INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA is free to download and access, so don’t miss out – CLICK HERE to get started.


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