Archive for July 10, 2016

 Josef Newgarden sets up for Turn 1 during the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway -- Image by Shawn Gritzmacher

Josef Newgarden sets up for Turn 1 during the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway — Image by Shawn Gritzmacher

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NEWTON, Iowa (Sunday, July 10, 2016) – Josef Newgarden put on one of the most dominant clinics in Indy car history, leading a record 282 laps today to win the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway.

The victory was the third of Newgarden’s six-year Verizon IndyCar Series career and first on an oval track. It also vaulted the Ed Carpenter Racing driver three spots into second place in the point standings after 10 of 16 completed races.

Starting the 300-lap race second in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet, Newgarden bolted past pole sitter Simon Pagenaud on the opening lap and never looked back. The only time the 25-year-old surrendered the lead came when he made pit stops for fuel and tires. His 282 laps led are the most ever by a driver in an Indy car race, surpassing the 250 by Ryan Hunter-Reay when he led every lap to win at Milwaukee in 2004.

“It was a lot of fun, mainly because the car was so good,” said Newgarden, who finished second to Hunter-Reay in each of the past two Iowa races. “It would go anywhere, it wasn’t really falling off much. It was fun. In some stints it seemed like a video game. You put on new tires, you catch people at the right point and you could just slice and dice.”

Iowa Corn 300 Box Score

Newgarden sustained a fractured right clavicle and fractured bone in his right hand in a crash during the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway that was suspended by rain June 12 after 71 laps. Still recovering, Newgarden finished eighth at Road America two weeks ago before driving to victory lane today. He trails Team Penske’s Pagenaud – who finished the race in fourth – by 73 points in the championship.

JR Hildebrand substituted in the No. 21 car at the Iowa Speedway test on June 29. Newgarden admitted being nervous over how physically demanding the short oval is, but surprised himself with how he handled it.

“If you have as good of a car as I had today, it makes your race so much easier to drive,” Newgarden said. “I don’t think people should feel like I did some crazy feat. The hand is still a little broken. I was able to use it; it wasn’t too painful. The clavicle feels good with the plate in, was stable. It was a little more uncomfortable than normal around here, but it was doable.”

The victory was also the seventh in the history of Ed Carpenter Racing since its formation in 2012.

“It was a great day for the team,” said team owner/driver Ed Carpenter, who finished 18th in the team’s other car. “We tested here last week, we knew we had really strong race cars. Josef drove excellent, especially with the conditions of his hand hurting.”

The Podium for the Iowa Corn IndyCar 300 - Image by Chris Owens

Iowa Corn IndyCar 300 Podium – Image by Chris Owens

Will Power finished in second place, 4.2828 seconds behind Newgarden. Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power passed Pagenaud and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the final seven laps to collect his third podium finish in as many races – on the heels of his back-to-back wins at Detroit’s Belle Isle-2 and Road America.

“It was good,” said Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion who sits third in this year’s championship, 75 points behind Pagenaud. “It took us all day to get to the front, basically. We kind of went really long on the first stint, lost quite a lot of positions there, then slowly made our way back.

“We needed long stints to get back to the front because our car was really good over a long distance. I’m not sure we would have had anything for Newgarden. He was on his own on another planet. Really happy with second, though. Really, really happy.”

Dixon finished third in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet for his 88th career podium finish – moving the four-time series champion into a tie for sixth on the all-time podiums list with Helio Castroneves, Bobby Rahal and Al Unser Jr.

“We spent much of the race just trying to dial the car in, at least the balance, and we had way too much understeer early on,” Dixon said. “It was nice to start the race, was pretty consistent, but fell off a lot towards the end.

“I don’t think anybody really had anything for Josef today. Huge credit to that team. For me, it’s nice to have an Iowa race go somewhat smooth.”

 Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden lead the field into Turn 1 during the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway -- Image by Chris Owens

Simon Pagenaud & Josef Newgarden lead the field into Turn 1 during the Iowa Corn 300 — Image by Chris Owens

The race on the high-banked 0.894-mile short oval – the 10th Verizon IndyCar Series event at Iowa Speedway – was slowed three times by full-course cautions. Hunter-Reay saw his chances for a third consecutive Iowa win and fourth in five years end when he stopped on Lap 109 with smoke trailing from his No. 28 DHL Honda. Juan Pablo Montoya had a similar ending in the No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet on Lap 179. Rookie Max Chilton brought out the final caution on Lap 246 when he spun exiting Turn 2 in the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Castroneves finished 13th in his 321st career Indy car start, moving the Team Penske driver ahead of Al Unser into fourth on the all-time list. Tony Kanaan, who finished seventh, joined Unser in a tie for fifth with 320 career starts.

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action July 15-17 for the Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place. Verizon P1 Award qualifying airs live at 1:30 p.m. ET July 16 on NBCSN. The 85-lap race on the 1.755-mile street circuit airs live at 3 p.m. July 17 on CNBC with a re-air at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 Team President Tim Cindric and Simon Pagenaud celebrate Team Penske's 500th overall pole position in the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway -- Image by Chris Jones.jpg

Team President Tim Cindric and Simon Pagenaud celebrate Team Penske’s 500th overall pole position in the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway — Image by Chris Jones

NEWTON, Iowa (Saturday, July 9, 2016) – Simon Pagenaud has been setting the standard in the Verizon IndyCar Series this season and he helped take Team Penske to another level today.

Pagenaud, a three-time winner in 2016 and the championship leader after nine of 16 completed races, won the Verizon P1 Award for the Iowa Corn 300, earning the 500th pole position in all racing disciplines in the illustrious history of Team Penske in the process. The driver of the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet circled the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway oval twice at 185.855 mph (34.6334 seconds) to capture his fifth pole position this season, seventh of his Indy car career and coveted No. 500 for boss Roger Penske.

“Five hundred, how cool is that?” the 32-year-old Frenchman asked while wearing a cap with “500” embroidered across the front. “It is just qualifying – we have a lot of work to do this weekend – but it certainly puts a great stamp on the work the No. 22 team has been doing as well as the whole Penske organization.”

Iowa Corn 300 Qual Results

All four Team Penske drivers qualified in succession following the blind draw for the order. Pagenaud benefited from being the last of the Penske quartet to make his attempt, receiving information relayed from his teammates about track and car handling conditions.

“It is such a gamble for the engineers in this situation,” he said. “You only get two laps. Conditions from this morning to the afternoon changed. It is fun when you get the car right like this on an oval.  Chevy has been incredible giving us so much power and such a good aero kit. It’s been comfortable and a lot more to my driving style.”

Pagenaud led a Chevrolet sweep of the top eight qualifying positions. Josef Newgarden, in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet, was second fastest with a two-lap average of 185.639 mph (34.6738 seconds). Newgarden is four weeks removed from sustaining a fractured right clavicle and bone in his right hand in a crash during the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway that was suspended by rain after 71 laps.

Josef Newgarden peels out of pit lane during practice for the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway -- Image by Chris Owens

Josef Newgarden peels out of pit lane during practice for the Iowa Corn 300 — Image by Chris Owens

“It’s always tough when you qualify second, you think, ‘Arrrgh!'” said Newgarden, who has finished second in the past two Iowa races. “It’s just really hard to qualify second. You almost wish you qualified fifth or something. That sounds really stupid, but it’s always tough.

“We needed that last little bit, but it’s nothing to complain about. I think we have fast cars. We’ve had fast cars here for the last couple years with Ed Carpenter Racing and I feel really good about our race car.”

Helio Castroneves qualified third in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet (185.433 mph, 34.7122 seconds) and will be joined in Row 2 by rookie Max Chilton, who qualified a career-best fourth. Chilton’s two-lap average speed was 185.419 mph (34.7148 seconds) in the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy.

“Great job by the Ganassi guys,” said Chilton, who won the 2015 Indy Lights race at Iowa. “It was nice to be the fastest (of the four Ganassi drivers), no easy feat. Really happy with that and tomorrow is what counts. I hear no one’s won from pole here, so I’m obviously in the right sort of area to have a good result.”

Defending race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has won three of the past four Iowa races, was uninjured in a morning practice crash in which his Andretti Autosport No. 28 DHL Honda sustained minor rear-end damage. He qualified 20th in the 22-car field. The Andretti team, which has won six straight Iowa Speedway races and seven of the nine to date, struggled as a whole, with Carlos Munoz qualifying 15th, Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi 17th and Marco Andretti 19th.

INDYCAR, Iowa Speedway Announce Extension through 2018

INDYCAR and Iowa Speedway announced a two-year extension today that will see the Verizon IndyCar Series return to the 0.894-mile oval through the 2018 season. The race dates for the next two Iowa Corn 300 races, both on Sundays, are July 9, 2017, and July 8, 2018.

The Verizon IndyCar Series has raced at Iowa Speedway each year since the facility hosted its first event in 2007, with this year marking the series’ 10th race. Iowa Corn has been a sponsor of the event since its inception, making it the second-longest entitlement sponsorship in INDYCAR.

“The success of our partnership with INDYCAR is a testament to our partnership with Iowa Corn and our loyal race fans in Iowa,” said Jimmy Small, Iowa Speedway president. “The Iowa Corn 300 has become a bucket-list item for race fans and we’re thrilled to make the announcement now so our fans can start planning ahead for the next two epic seven-eighths-mile showdowns.

“We love everything that the Iowa Corn 300 has grown into and I’m proud to have them on board for two more years.”

The Iowa race has become an anchor of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ mid-season schedule, settling into its July date the past three years. Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations, noted the stability of the “Fastest Short Track on the Planet” as important to the overall schedule’s continuity.

“Iowa Speedway has become a staple of the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule and we’re happy to confirm we’ll be returning here in 2017 and 2018,” Frye said. “The level of competition at this track is incredible and showcases some of the best Indy car racing you’ll see all year.

“We’re thankful for the continued support from Iowa Corn and Iowa Speedway track president Jimmy Small. Both of their teams have been instrumental in making this such a strong event.”

In a historic early offering, Iowa Speedway season-ticket holders will have the opportunity to renew beginning July 29-30, ahead of when season tickets go on sale Aug. 2 at the track box office and on IowaSpeedway.com

Announcement of the 2017 Iowa race brings the number of dates that have been confirmed for next season to seven. Previously announced 2017 races are St. Petersburg (March 12), Long Beach (April 9), the 101st Indianapolis 500 (May 28), the doubleheader weekend at Detroit’s Belle Isle (June 3-4) and Road America (June 25).