Despite being the smallest track on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway has raced more like a superspeedway in its time on the circuit. Recent races at the track (see last year's highlights above) have featured close-quarter, side-by-side action that's more of the style at 1.5-mile ovals than bullrings.
However, all of that may be coming to an end with this year's Iowa Corn Indy 250 (Sat., 7:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network). After a lower-downforce aero package helped eliminate pack racing two weekends ago at Texas Motor Speedway, some drivers such as Will Power and Graham Rahal -- who both tested at Iowa last week and have said they were too flat-out throughout their runs there -- wanted the added control they had at Texas to be transferred over to Iowa's high-banked bullring.
They're going to get it. INDYCAR has now confirmed a new aero package for Iowa that will reduce downforce by "about 8-9 percent." An INDYCAR.com report states that the cars will have a maximum rear flap angle of 37 degrees with no wicker allowed for the Iowa round, which will feature three, 30-lap heat races on Friday night to determine the starting grid for Saturday's main event.
Elements from the normal short oval aero package that was used last Saturday at Milwaukee will also be carried over to Iowa, such as:
- Mandatory speedway front brake backing plates
- Optional two-thirds radiator inlet shutters
- Prohibited rear wheel infills and sidepod top deck
Power told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last Thursday that his recent test at Iowa was "just wide open even with 70 laps on your tires." As for Rahal, he told the Associated Press that his Iowa test runs were "way too easy."
You have to believe that there were more drivers that shared this opinion, and that's why INDYCAR has made the call to change the downforce levels for Iowa. That said, this may not be the final tweak we see this weekend.
At Texas, the first practice and qualifying sessions were run with no rear wing wickers on the cars, which met with mixed reviews from the drivers. In response, INDYCAR gave the teams an option to run a wicker that was full span and up to 1/8-inch in height before the final practice prior to the Firestone 550 (the wicker added 125 extra pounds of downforce to the cars).
This weekend at Iowa, the IZOD IndyCar Series will have two practice sessions on Friday (11-11:45 a.m. ET, 3:30-4:15 p.m. ET) before the aforementioned heat races later that night (7:15 p.m. ET), which leads to the obvious question: Will there be more driver feedback that pushes the series to make further aero changes as the event goes on?
Another note: INDYCAR has decided to set the qualification groups for the heat races by lap times recorded in the second Friday practice session (3:30 p.m. ET).