Drivers look forward to Iowa bullring
Iowa Speedway is just three years old, but already it has produced exciting, side-by-side racing. In 2007, Dario Franchitti won the first IndyCar Series event at the .875-mile oval by .0681 of a second ahead of Marco Andretti. Last year, Dan Wheldon edged Hideki Mutoh by .1430 of a second.
Billed as a short oval when it opened, the track's variably banked corners (12-14 degrees) lends itself to racing more like a speedway.
"The key to Iowa Speedway is getting your car balanced so that it works in both the low and high grooves," said Ryan Hunter-Reay, who will race with A.J. Foyt Racing for the first time. "It races like a 1.5-mile track because of the banking, so in that sense you approach it the same as you would a 1.5 mile track only with more downforce."
One team that has found the right setup for its cars at Iowa in the past has been Andretti Green Racing. Franchitti's win came with the team, while Andretti and Mutoh's second-place finishes also came with the team.
"I'm looking forward to returning to Iowa Speedway," said Andretti, who earned his first top-five finish of the season June 6 at Texas. "It's a track where I think the No. 26 car and Andretti Green as a whole have been very strong. Hideki (Mutoh) and I both finished on the podium last year, and I brought home second the year before that. Hopefully we can keep at least the podium streak alive, although maybe on the top step this year."
Also looking forward to returning is Wheldon, who is eyeing his first victory with Panther Racing after recording five consecutive top-10 finishes.
"It's always a nice feeling going back to a track were you've won, and Iowa is going to be a very competitive race," said Wheldon, whose win at Iowa came with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. "They key here is having a car that works well through Turns 1 and 2. If you're good through there, then Iowa is a fun place to race. I figured I had to win the race last year after crashing on the first lap two years ago. Last year, I was actually quicker with old tires if that makes sense. I was a lot slower after our pit stops, so we decided to not stop late in the race and leave the old tires on. The Panther Racing guys have been working very hard on the National Guard car, and we're continuing to get better. The key for us is if we've got a chance to win a race, we have to take advantage."