All Times Central
FRIDAY, JULY 22
2:00 pm Gates Open
2:15 pm – 3:05 pm Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Practice
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice Peacock
5:30 pm Track crossing opens for fans to access the infield paddock area
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires driver autograph session (paddock area of the infield)
Good morning from Iowa. It is so nice to be back at Iowa Speedway. It is a fun track to watch a race. This weekend’s double header event is an experiment for Indycar. There are four concerts tomorrow and Sunday-Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line tomorrow; Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton on Sunday-and a food truck festival. All of the extras are an attempt to draw a good crowd for an oval race. The advance sales show that it might work. Officials are expecting moree than 30,000 fans each day. The attendance is promising, but can it be sustained over several years?
My only issue with the weekend is that the Saturday race isn’t a night race. The racing at Iowa Speedway is much better at night. I have seen both day and night races here, and The daytime races were not as good as the bighttime ones.
The weather will be a big factor, especially for Saturday’s HyVeeDeals.com 250 presented by DoorDash, Temepreatures Saturday are expected to be in the mid to uper 90s with a heat index reach at least 100 degrees. Cooling inside the cockpit will be a concern.
Conr Daly said about this weekend’s heat:
“I think this weekend is without a
doubt going to be the hardest we’ve been pushed in this
era of INDYCAR racing for sure, with the aeroscreen,
double-header at Iowa in the day. The forecast doesn’t
necessarily look super inviting or like wonderful.
So yeah, we’ve never run the cool shirt yet at an oval, but I
think we’re going to try to run the cool shirt this weekend.”
The cooling shirt adds about six pounds to the car. If everyone wears it, there is no penalty.
Sunday’s forecast looks better, with a high in the mid 80s.
Will tire degradation be an issue in the heat? Generally a stint can go close to 80 laps here, but will we see earlier stops for tires? Will the race turn into a fuelk saving race? Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
Spotter’s Guide for Saturday
Marcus Ericsson increased his lead to 35 points over Will Power and 44 points over Josef Newgarden. He has to try to at least maintain that distance after Sunday at a track where Team Penske has dominated. Newgarden has won three times here and has led the most laps. I think Ericsson will still be leading at the end of the day Sunday, but he will probaly need a couple of top 5s and maybe a podium to extend his advantage.
David Malukas has been the highest finishing rookie on each of the two previous ovals. I expect him to be the highest finisher in class again.
Malukas is till my pick for Rookie of the Year. He currently trails Christian Lundgaard by 20 points in the standings and should cut that margin over the next couple of days.
Scott Dixon, who turns 42 today, will star his 300th Indycar race Sunday. His 52 wins means he has won one race out of every six he has run.
This might be the weekend Alex Palou wins a race. It has been a whilke since a defending champion did not win a race the following year, and I believe this is the deepest into a season a champion has gone without winning since 2014. That driver? Scott Dixon.
If you are coming to the track, please hydrate and find shade under the grandstand whenever possible.
Back with more after I get a chance to explore the new, improved Iowa Speedway. I had just a brief glance at it yesterday, and everything looks great,.