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IndyCar field packed with Iowa Speedway vets

Published: Friday, June 21, 2013 11:20 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 21, 2013 11:57 a.m. CDT

Following a dominating performance by Ryan Hunter-Reay at last Saturday’s Milwaukee IndyFest, the IZOD IndyCar Series will be coming to Iowa Speedway this weekend for the annual Iowa Corn 250.

Hunter-Reay also won last year’s Iowa Corn 250, driving the No. 28 car for Andretti Autosport. He returns to a track where he has four top-10 finishes in five career starts. Although the car’s number may have changed to the number one, that is probably more apropos for his stature coming into this week.

Hunter-Reay comes into the race in second in the IndyCar points standings. He sits 16 points behind leader Helio Castroneves. Castroneves finished right behind Hunter-Reay last weekend, edging out Will Power and E. J. Viso.

Castroneves has an interesting and somewhat combative history at Iowa Speedway. Although he has performed very well racing for Roger Penske’s team, — five top-10 finishes in six races dating back to 2007 — he has finished in a worse position that his qualifying every year with the exceptions of 2010 and 2011, and had led a combined 343 laps. Last year’s race seemed as though it was his to lose. Castroneves started in the No. 2 position and led a majority of the race, 133 laps, but he tailed off at the end and finished sixth.

Dario Franchitti will be the only driver in the field on Sunday that has multiple victories at Iowa Speedway. He sits in the 10th position in this year’s points standings, with three DNFs contributing to his 2013 struggles. Franchitti took the checkers in the inaugural Iowa Corn 250 back in 2007, when he was diving the No. 27 car for Andretti Green Racing. He won again the very next year in Chip Ganassi’s No. 10 car. However, Franchitti has struggled in two of the last three IndyCar races hosted at Iowa Speedway, finishing 18th in 2010 and 25th in 2012.

One bright spot about last year’s race that bodes well for this season for Franchitti was his qualifying position. Starting this year, qualifying for the Iowa Corn 250 will be worth cup points. Franchitti qualified first in last season’s heats.

Marco Andretti won at Iowa Speedway just two years ago, surging from a 17th place start to take the checkers. His history at the speedway is very favorable, and his experience at the track could prove invaluable on Sunday. Andretti, despite only being 25 years old, has six races under his belt at Iowa Speedway. He has four top-three finishes: a second-place finish in 2007, third in 2008, the win in 2011 anda second place finish in the No. 26 RC Cola car last season.

Competition will start on Saturday with IndyCar Qualifying starting at 3:00 p.m. and IndyCar Heat Races beginning at 5:45. The race action will take place on Sunday, with pre-race festivities kicking off at 1:30 p.m.

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