It’s always a sad day when the final short oval race of the year is in the books. With the season now at its halfway point, the More Front Wing team presents our first impressions of the Iowa Corn Indy 250 below.
Between James Hinchcliffe’s dominant win and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s comeback to 2nd from the last position of the lead lap, Andretti Autosport once again owned the little oval in Iowa.
Still, it was far from a dull event. There was crazy action all the way through the pack that kept plenty of interest in a race that was essentially a runaway.
And kudos are definitely owed to ABC. The booth team appeared to have had a couple of shots of espresso each before the start of this one. Their energy was noticeably higher throughout this broadcast, and they were even taking digs at each other and seemed to be having a lot more fun. The storylines were being followed much more effectively than they otherwise have been this season. It wasn’t perfect, but yesterday’s show was definitely a marked improvement. You almost get the impression they’ve been listening and trying to react to viewer concerns!
That said, I still have some worries coming out of this one — most notably that by Iowa Speedway standards this racetrack was deserted. I’ve tended to treat Iowa as a bit of a barometer of the health of the IZOD IndyCar Series in recent years: attendance at other tracks may be falling, but Iowa is always packed and so things must not be that bad. This year, there was an awful lot of bare aluminum. That sends my stomach into knots a little bit.
And I wasn’t able to watch the heat races this year because I had family obligations and they weren’t broadcast on TV, so there was no way to record them. It’s unavoidable on an ABC weekend, of course, but it seems like an awful waste of an idea that might otherwise grab some attention. That said, it didn’t sound from the reports as though the heat races were especially exciting anyway. Perhaps it’s time to own up to the fact that no one wants to risk a damaged car on racing properly during what’s effectively a qualifying session and to let the concept go.
At any rate, the final short track of the year is now behind us, and the teams get a well-deserved week off before making the much-lauded return to Pocono. Let’s hope a few more people — and the same energetic ABC crew — show up for that one.
Before the season started there were a lot of people pegging Hinchcliffe to win his first career race this year. Well, we’re halfway through the season and James has already grabbed three wins. In fact, Andretti Autosport has won half of the races so far this season (5 of the 10) with Hinch and Hunter-Reay. Sunday showed just how strong these two are right now, with James leading 226 of the 250 laps and Ryan’s comeback that fell short due to lapped traffic. After his pit stop for contact, being the last car on the lead lap in the back of the back, nobody thought he would rally for a runner-up finish.
If anyone needed a top-five finish, it was Rahal. The battle between him and Kanaan in the closing laps was fantastic. Neither driver was going to give it up, but there was no real dirty play.
It was good to see Servia have such a good weekend with the Panther guys.
I was surprised how Power faded to the back and that Helio couldn’t get back to the front.
I wish I could say I was surprised by the Target/Ganassi cars, but this has become routine. You have to wonder how much longer they will put up with these Honda engines. For Dario though, I think it might be something more than that.
The qualifying heat races were much better this year. With drivers earning transfer spots and championship points, the format was much easier to understand, and it was more rewarding for the drivers and teams.
There is so much anticipation for this next race at Pocono, and for good reason. Aside from all of the history and Triple Crown talk, it should be noted that there are only eight races after that — and seven of them are road/street events. It’s still wide open.