A New Garden Grows in Iowa

We have seen the future of Indycar, and it is called Josef. His win in Sunday’s Iowa Corn 300 was the most dominant drive I have seen in a very long time. It was the equivalent of a perfect game in baseball. He was lightning fast, lapping almost the entire field several times. In fact, at one point he had lapped everyone except 2nd place Simon Pagenaud.  How often has that occurred since the DW12 came on board? I can’t think of when either.

The last time Josef Newgarden was behind on Sunday

In 2014 and 2015,  Josef finished second here. Last year a botched final stop cost him the win. Before the race we were talking about how Andretti Autosport has dominated this race.  The last three years for Newgarden- 2nd, 2nd, 1st. Who’s dominating now?

Before the race I felt Newgarden and Tony Kanaan were the favorites. Kanaan has come close a lot this year, but is still looking for his first win this season. This year for him reminds me of 2014, when he came very close to winning several times before taking the finale at Fontana. For Newgarden, there were questions before the race. Could his broken hand withstand this type of racing? Would his pit stops go smoothly? He dealt with the pain.  Other than a small glitch on his first stop, There were no pit issues.

While Josef was running away and hiding from the rest of the field, there was a great race going on behind him. There seemed to be a constant battle for second place, as well as fights for other positions. Good close racing happened all over the track. I saw some incredible passes, but a pass that didn’t happen stood out. In one of his first romps through the field, Newgarden came up behind two cars side by side fighting for position in turn 3. He stuck his nose between them, then backed off and waited until they sorted out the battle. Aside from the start, I thought that was the best move he made all day.

The series moves to Toronto next weekend. By the way, Josef Newgarden is the defending champion there.

Thoughts on Iowa:

As great an event as this weekend was, I think this works better as a night race. The crowd was disappointing. The Friday night ARCA race, which usually draws a fair amount of fans, was smaller as well.  I hope having date equity for the next two years will help build the attendance back near what it once was.

This was my third time at Iowa. There seems to be a blown engine tradition here.  The 4th of July worthy display when Ryan Hunter-Reay’s engine let go was spectacular. Imagine how cool that would have looked at night.

After a weekend in the vastness of Road America, it was nice to spend time in a more compact venue. Everything at Iowa is easy and quick to get to, with shuttles and golf cart rides to parking lots, campgrounds, and the paddock.

I appreciated the extended paddock hours this year. last year the paddock was only open for passholders for about two hours. This year the paddock was open all day on Saturday.

Alexander Rossi had another solid finish. His average finish on ovals this year is 7th.  Rossi is having an incredible rookie year. People need to start paying more attention to him.

Newgarden jumped to second in points with the win Sunday. He needs to gain  as many points as possible on Pagenaud in the next three races since he will lose ground at the Texas race resumption.

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