Sunday’s Iowa Corn 300 could be the race to end all races – it’s often that entertaining. Hopefully it isn’t the end of IndyCar races at Iowa Speedway, but that’s only if “Bismarck” Miles doesn’t declare war on any more oval tracks. Where’s an ace leader like Eddie Rickenbacker when your series needs him?
One fact about Iowa that’s likely to blow you away is three different winners in as many years, with the (usually) retired Helio, Newgarden and Hunter-Reay the victors. Make it four of the last five if you throw in Hinchcliffe’s devastating win in 2013. Taken together, they’re who we call The Big Four of Iowa.
Ryan Hunter-Reay has won an impressive three battles on Iowa’s plains, including back to back in 2014-15. Incredibly, his record’s less gaudy than that of his team’s smashing performance overall. Andretti Autosport’s enjoyed an unrestricted seven wins – out of only eleven races in the track’s history – sinking the competition as effectively as a u-boat wolf pack. Hinch’s win was with AA, too and even Marco managed top of the podium for his dad’s outfit, somehow. It was his last win, now seven years ago. Seems like a century, doesn’t it?
Photo from foxsports.com
Our special prognostication for Sunday is related, though far from neutral. It won’t be owner Michael Andretti smirking in victory lane this Sunday, as other teams are set to benefit immensely from the leveling effects of the new cars on the diminutive oval. To the surprise of many observers, it won’t be a hugely successful expedition for RHR or his allies.
Pole winner may well be Will “the Hun” Power yet again, unfortunately. Believe you me, we’re as tired of writing it as you are of reading it, but there’s no denying he’s top of class when it comes to qualifying at present. In addition to his current streak he took pole at Iowa last year, though happily missed the podium finishing fourth. Starting position aside, the addled Aussie‘ll be a minor character at the conference in the cornfields come race day.
First out will probably be Hinch, if not his hard luck rookie teammate Robby Wickens. SPM seems shell shocked of late, having had little success the last couple seasons despite all the hype. Wickens wins praise and generates chatter, but the results after his first taste of battle in Iowa won’t justify any of it. Look for the troubled team to again struggle all weekend long, as the Canadians remain firmly within Americans’ shadow. It is Fourth of July week, after all – what’d you expect?
The biggest surprise of a typically terrific Iowa contest will be if Ed Carpenter doesn’t get into an all out war with someone. Fast Eddy’s temper often flares up outside Des Moines, and those who’ve felt his righteous wrath include Sage Karam in 2015, who to his credit remained completely nonplussed. Expect the verbal – and visible – barrages from Ed “the Kaiser” Carpenter to continue.
Winner will be our pick for season champion, all American boy Josef Newgarden. He’s been the Sergeant York of the series since last year, most recently winning the short oval at (now defunct) Phoenix, the road “race” two weeks ago as well as the ’17 championship. Plus, he won Iowa two years ago marking his own Argonne Offensive, if you will.
It’ll once again be Newkid dictating the terms of surrender Sunday, with the rest of the Big Four – and field – relegated to the dustbin of Iowa IndyCar history.