Jul 10, 2014
NEWTON, Iowa -- Andretti Autosport has won five of the seven Verizon IndyCar Series races at Iowa Speedway, including the past four. James Hinchcliffe, part-owner of the streak, leads a four-entry effort to extend it July 12 in the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB.
Hinchcliffe led 228 of the 250 laps on the .894-mile, variably-banked oval in June 2013 en route to his third victory of the season. In his previous two seasons, Hinchcliffe led a total of 33 laps on ovals.
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Ryan Hunter-Reay was runner-up by 1.509 seconds – the second consecutive year that Andretti Autosport cars finished 1-2. In 2012, Hunter-Reay led Marco Andretti across the finish line, and other Andretti Autosport winners include Andretti in 2011, Tony Kanaan in 2010 and Dario Franchitti in 2007.
“The cars that the team has had at Iowa have been really competitive since they started going there,” said Hinchcliffe, who started second last year through the three heat race format. “That gives the team a lot of confidence, but at the same time you can’t rest on your laurels because you know everybody will have improved on their packages from last year and many teams tested there (in mid-June).
“Last year we had to race some really strong cars during parts of the race and we know everybody will go back with a stronger package and we have to do the same.”
In 2013, the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB followed another short-track race – at the Milwaukee Mile – before the series headed to the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway tri-oval. Iowa and Pocono are reversed this year, with the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest on Aug. 17.
“Now you’re going from one of the biggest places to the smallest,” said Hinchcliffe, whose No. 27 United Fiber & Data car finished 12th in the Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco on July 6. “It’s a huge shift in mind-set when you get there. The first couple of laps (in practice, 11 a.m. ET July 11, with live streaming on www.IndyCar.com) will be tough just to get your head around how quick everything happens.”
Hinchcliffe also has a personal streak – starting in the top 10 the past seven races – and has an average starting position of 6.1 through the 11 rounds of the 18-race season. Strong race results haven’t been as forthcoming; he has an average finish of 12.0 in the seven races and 13.9 for the season. Fifth place at Belle Isle 2 and Houston 1 are season highs.
“Going back after my performance last year is something I’m looking forward to, but again you go with these raised expectations because we did have such a good race and historically the team has had such good cars there,” he said. “I have confidence in the guys that we can sort it out on Saturday night and repeat.”