Race Preview: Iowa Speedway



Posted on 07/20/2023

Race Preview: Iowa Speedway

With 10 races in the books through the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, Chip Ganassi Racing again sits atop the championship standings. The team has led the series in points through all but one race this year and now boasts a 117-point advantage by means of Alex Palou and the No. 10 team.

CGR will enter the Iowa Speedway doubleheader in search of their sixth victory on the year, which would also mark the team’s 50th all-time victory on an oval in INDYCAR competition.

The team sits first (Palou: 417), second (Dixon: 300) and fourth (Ericsson: 275) in the points standings, and will welcome Takuma Sato back to the fold, who most recently scored a P7 finish at the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Iowa Speedway has been favorable to Chip Ganassi Racing, as the team has registered two wins (2009; 2008), eight podiums and four pole positions (2014; 2012; 2008; 2007) previously at the track.

Check out the full schedule for the 250-lap races on the 0.875-mile oval. Be sure to tune into NBC at 3:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 22, and at 2:00 p.m. ET and Sunday, July 23.

Alex Palou - No. 10 American Legion Honda

"I'm really excited for Iowa and to have back-to-back races, especially because we are coming off a good race in Toronto that could have been a lot worse. We've tested at Iowa and we're now hoping to take another step forward from last year. We also have a great opportunity to win $1 million dollars for the team, The American Legion and myself. We need to win one of those for that bonus and to continue going after this championship."

Palou and the No. 10 crew have been on another level this year. He remains the INDYCAR leader in points (417), wins (4), podiums (6), poles (2; tied with three others), laps led (246), average finishing position (3.1) and average starting position (4.7) entering Iowa.

The 2021 series champion has ripped off a remarkable run of race results, which in chronological order, reads as P8 (St. Pete), P3 (Texas), P5 (Long Beach), P5 (Barber), P1 (Indianapolis RC), P4 (Indianapolis), P1 (Detroit), P1 (Road America), P1 (Mid-Ohio) and P2 (Toronto).

Palou will next tackle Iowa Speedway, where he registered a P6 result with the team in the first of two races last year. He was the fifth-biggest mover in the race, advancing eight positions after starting in P14. 

Scott Dixon - No. 9 PNC Bank Honda 

"I think what everybody has done for this event with the entertainment is a cool aspect of it. The weather actually looks quite cool and mild, which is also fantastic for day racing. It's always a fun race, but a difficult one with people coming and going all the time. It makes it a lot of fun to drive, but also for everybody to watch. It's not been super spectacular for us, but we had a fourth and a fifth there last year for some decent results. I think we could have had a podium in that last race there, but just couldn't find the pace on that last restart. We had a test there that was quite good for areas we've been trying to improve. Hopefully, that plays true for all of us."

Despite searching for his first career victory at Iowa Speedway, Dixon has had plenty of success at the track. He holds the track records for overall laps recorded (4,478), top-five finishes (11) and the two-lap average qualifying speed (34.5588 seconds/186.256 mph).

Dixon has collected four podium finishes at the track and boasts an average finishing position of 6.53, which is the second-best all-time mark among drivers who have made at least three starts at the track.

The Iceman is knocking on the door for his first victory of the season, having finished in the top five in each of his previous four starts. If he were to take the checkered flag at Iowa, it would be the 27th track at which he has claimed victory.

Marcus Ericsson - No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz Honda

"This weekend is definitely one of the highlights of the year. It's a really fun short oval and the racing is always great with plenty of overtaking and action in general. The fact that there are two races in one weekend makes it tough for the teams and drivers, but I really enjoy that challenge. For us on the 8 car, we've had a couple of tough weekends. Even though we had a strong race in Toronto, the ending there wasn't what we wanted. So, we're very focused and determined to have a strong weekend and score some big points."

With 275 points, Ericsson retains the fourth spot in the championship pursuit and enters Iowa having remarkably improved his oval performance over the years. Since the start of last season, no driver has posted a better average finishing result on such tracks than Ericsson (5.0 across seven races).

Ericsson scored valuable points at the Newton, Iowa, oval last season, posting P8 and P6 results at the sweltering doubleheader. 

Takuma Sato - No. 11 Deloitte Honda

"I’m excited to get back to racing at Iowa this weekend. This track is such an iconic short oval. It is super bumpy with high banking and multiple lanes available, which means a great race all the way to the end. It is just non-stop cornering with usually the highest lateral G-load records during the season. It's only 18 seconds per lap in qualifying and that's really challenging. We had an encouraging test last month, covered many items by splitting all four cars with teammates so we are looking forward to putting good things together. I am also extremely delighted with another opportunity to work with the team and drive CGR’s beautiful No. 11 Deloitte Honda car. I really appreciate the support of Deloitte as our title sponsor once again. Lastly, it's going to be a hot weekend, as well as the season's only doubleheader, so lots of action will be guaranteed."

Sato, who recently posted a P7 finish at the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500, is no stranger to Iowa Speedway. He has made 14 career starts at the track, where he has led laps in four of those races.

He has earned one podium (P3 in 2018) and one pole position (2011) previously at the track.