By: Tony Donohue
The Indy Car Series heads to Newton, Iowa this weekend for the third running of the Iowa Corn Indy 250. The 25,000 seats around the 0.875 mile oval will be packed with fans ready to see the Indy Car action. The Iowa Corn 250 is 250 laps long which equal a distance of 218.75 miles, which makes it the shortest oval race on the Indy Car schedule.
The first ever Iowa Corn 259 was ran back in 2007. Dario Franchitti took home the win driving for Andretti Green Racing, with his teammate Marco Andretti in second and Scott Sharp in third. Only five cars that day finished on the lead lap, after multiple incidents claimed over half the field. The 2008 race saw Dan Wheldon roll the dice on fuel to win on his birthday, picking up his 15th career win. Hideki Mutoh and Marco Andretti rounded out the top 3. Last year, thirteen of the twenty six starters finished on the lead lap.
So what can we expect this weekend at Iowa? Twenty cars are entered into the field, Including Jacques Lazier in the #98 3G car. Tomas Scheckter heads back to the #23 car for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, and it will be the first race for Ryan Hunter-Reay with A.J Foyt Racing where he will run the remainder of the schedule. A few drivers will look to break out of a slump, no more so then Andretti Greens Tony Kanaan. Kanaan, hasn’t been to victory lane since last year at Richmond, and since his Indy wreck, has an average finish of 18th, which has dropped him to seventh in the championship standings. Another driver looking to improve is E.J. Viso. Viso, the second year driver for HVM Racing, is having what seems to be a sophomore slump. E.J. hasn't finished a race all year, and hasn’t finished a points paying event since last year at Sonoma where he brought it home 6th.
With the championship heating up, the Indy Car Series heads into its summer stretch. The IRL will run races in eight of the next nine weeks, including the next four weekends. After the checkered falls at Iowa, the series will head to Richmond, followed by road courses at Watkins Glen, Toronto and Edmonton, head to the oval at the Kentucky Speedway, and then back to right and left handed turns at Mid- Ohio. The next nine weeks are critical for all the drivers to display their skills, and make a run at the Championship.
My Predictions: I will take Dario Franchitti to score his second win at Iowa, and his second on the year. I believe Andretti Green will have a break out weekend, look for them in the top 5. My dark horses are Tomas Scheckter and Hideki Mutoh. You can see the Indy Car Series at Iowa at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on ABC, and the Firestone Indy Lights race will be ran Saturday night at 8 eastern, and can be seen on Versus, Monday at 4 p.m.