As was said throughout the broadcast (and even our most recent podcast – which you can listen to here), the INDYCAR series went from double headers at the longest track in the series to doubleheaders at the shortest track. The Iowa Speedway comes in at 0.875 miles, and the drivers this past weekend each evening did two-hundred and fifty laps for a total of 218.75 miles. Both Friday night and Saturday night. Given the continued compressed scheduled this weekend’s qualifying was unique. Lap 1 of qualifying set positions for Race 1 and Lap 2 set positions for Race 2. Typically oval qualifying is average of two-laps give the driver the position, but this is anything but typical season. Qualifying was certainly a unique experience and set the mood for a wild weekend!
Iowa Post Mortem
It was a good weekend for a lot of drivers. We had drivers had charging from back to front and drivers keeping their nose clean. However three (well four) drivers came out with a great weekend. Alexander Rossi followed up his podium at Road America with two solid top ten finishes. He had some wonky issues in qualifying. His car was loose and gave him a big moment, and so his second lap was much slower putting him near the back of the second race. That issue, and the issues of prior races, hopefully are behind him. Two very solid races from Jack Harvey, finishing top ten in both races. Meyer Shank Racing just keeps bringing in solid race weekends. Finally a great race weekend for both Arrow McLaren SP racers. Oliver Askew locked in his first podium, the weekend after his teammate earned his first podium. Sure the teammates bumped into each other racing for position, but that aside it was a great weekend.
Tires man. Tires. I’m not sure if we need to just throw some sage or holy water on all of the tires before Mid Ohio. Will’s left front tire wasn’t secured properly during Race 1 and it legitimately flew off and over his car. It looked like the tire changer tried to adjust the front wing at the same time. I can multi-task very well, but what shouldn’t be multitask it tightening a tire during a race. Then the number of pit-stop issues with tires was at least ten. Notable ones include Pato O’Ward driving off without a connected tire (thankfully he was only a few pit stalls down) and Felix Rosenqvist having yet more weird pit issues.
Aside from tires, another bad constant this weekend was the Andretti Autosport haunt. It may have moved from Alexander Rossi’s car, but it went to Veach and RHR’s car. Zach Veach suffered a bad clutch issue during the first race, and even a minor car fire. Then during the second race again some more clutch issues and he was out of the race. I think we have to coat his car in fireproof material. Ryan Hunter-Reay had an even more bizarre constant issue. Both races he turned into the inner wall on Turn 2. The first race he managed to keep going, but it ended his race in Race 2. Super bizarre that it was nearly in the same place.
Rinus VeeKay and Colton Herta both had luck and higher power on their side during Race 1. It appears the restart was waived off, but while VeeKay knew Herta did not. Herta ended up driving up onto VeeKay’s car before going onto the safer barrier. That the safer barrier was set away from the catch fence prevented his all ready air born care from spinning. VeeKay had the aeroscreen to keep the Herta’s car and pieces from invading the cockpit. Both drivers were out of their cars and back for the race the following day.
Simon Pagenaud must have made a deal with the devil. He started the weekend off with no fuel pressure right when he was to start his qualifying run. He did not get it fixed within the one-minute limit and therefore was unable to qualify. He started both races from the back. For the first race he went from last place to first. The team made fantastic strategy calls and took a risk with longer stints on tires. Then for the second race he still pulled of a top five finish after, again, starting from the back. Just pure magic.
Finally Conor Daly had a hell of a weekend. His first pole and Carlin Racing’s first pole. He kept everything together and made a good showing. A podium would have been a perfect cap to the weekend, but that’s happening soon.
Now everyone in the series gets to rest. They’ve had five races in three weekend. They get two weeks off and back into a very hectic schedule of Mid Ohio, Indy 500 Qualifications, the Indianapolis 500, and finally Gateway. Rest well drivers and crew!
No rest for me though! Stay turned there will be a blog out about our NHRA Day, I’m ranking the masks from Iowa, and finally writing about all that we learned from these hectic weeks. Keep an eye on this blog, or our social media (find that here). Oh yeah! We’ve got the Race Report episode dropping on Wednesday, you can subscribe to the podcast here.