The Verizon IndyCar Series visits its shortest host venue of the season on Sunday, as Iowa Speedway holds the Iowa Corn 300 for the 12th consecutive season. Will Power, the race’s 2016 runner-up and last year’s polesitter, ended Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session on top, leading a Team Penske sweep of the front row with Josef Newgarden.
One of only three remaining ovals on the IndyCar calendar, Iowa presents a unique challenge for the sport’s top teams as they prepare to run the series’ high-downforce package on an oval instead of its typical road course usage. While that may be the defining factor in the 300-lap event, make sure also to follow these storylines through to the end of Sunday’s action:
How wide open is this championship if Scott Dixon slips up?
Alexander Rossi is 45 points out of the championship lead right now. So is his Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. Defending series champion Newgarden is only five points back of them, and Power is only 15 adrift of Newgarden. That’s an incredibly crowded top five, with Dixon’s large lead the only exception. It is itself a mistake to bet on a mistake from a driver known as the “Iceman,” but if it happens, we could be in for a five-way brouhaha in the final six rounds of the season.
Will Andretti Autosport return to the front of the pack at Iowa?
Iowa may not be a home track for Michael Andretti’s squad, but his drivers have certainly made themselves at home in its winners’ circle. In 11 years of competition at the .875-mile course, Andretti drivers have won seven times, including six consecutive years from 2010 to 2015. Hunter-Reay is the most prolific driver for the team with three of those wins (2012, 2014, and 2015); however, in the last two years, it’s been Ed Carpenter Racing and Team Penske on top.
Can Will Power finally take an elusive Iowa victory?
Despite now earning two consecutive poles at Iowa, the past decade has been a mixed bag for Power at the midwestern bullring. The Australian’s second and fourth place results over the past two years are offset by championship-altering DNFs in two of his four runner-up seasons, and a number of decidedly mid-pack results. Now on the chase once again in the standings, maybe this year is finally his chance to break through—just as he did in May to win his first Indianapolis 500.