Today’s question: Who will win the Hy-VeeDeals.com 250 presented by DoorDash NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at 4 p.m. ET Saturday (NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) and the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 presented by Google at 3 p.m. ET Sunday (NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network), both at Iowa Speedway?
Curt Cavin: Since my selection usually leads off the Roundtable order, I’ll say that if we’re not in unison in selecting Josef Newgarden for at least one win this weekend, we’re kidding ourselves. The Team Penske driver will be the favorite for both races on the strength of three wins in the past six races at Iowa, including last year’s Race 2 win from the pole. Newgarden is the only active driver with three wins at the track – Ryan Hunter-Reay is the other driver with three wins – and he also has second-place finishes in 2014 and ’15. He’s done the aforementioned with what amounts to three different teams (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing and Team Penske). Even more amazing is Newgarden’s time as the leader. He has led each of the past seven races for a total of 1,150 of the 2,000 laps (that’s 57.5 percent!). Bottom line, a selection of a driver other than Newgarden by Sribhen or Kelly is them being a contrarian. Since it's difficult to sweep a weekend, I’ll go with Will Power to win the race Newgarden that doesn’t win. After all, Team Penske has won the past three Iowa races and four of the past five. Surprisingly, this is one of the few tracks where Power hasn’t won.
Arni Sribhen: To satisfy Curt’s requirement of picking Josef Newgarden, I will get that out of the way, by saying Josef will win Sunday’s 300-lap affair, but with the caveat that I was already going to pick him before I read that Curt said I had to do it. It really makes a lot of sense, because it’s hard to overlook Josef and Team Penske when it comes to Iowa Speedway. Team Penske has won the last three races at Iowa Speedway, and Newgarden is just one of three winners entered this weekend (the other two – Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves won for you guessed it, Team Penske). Josef has won two of the last three times that the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has raced at the “Fastest Short Track On The Planet” and once led 282 laps of a 300-lap race at Iowa. In his last eight Iowa races, he’s led 1,150 laps and has an average finish of 2.75. If he doesn’t win one of the two races this weekend, I’ll be shocked. But I also want to offer up a contrarian pick for the weekend. So, here’s a driver who could usurp Newgarden’s crown as king of the “Track of Dreams.” Pato O’Ward has 12 oval starts in his INDYCAR SERIES career, and he’s finished on the podium six times. His average finish is 5.5 in those starts, and he finished fourth and 12th in the 2020 doubleheader at track. Pato had success at Iowa while on the Road to Indy – winning the Indy Lights race at the track in 2018 and finishing third in the Pro Mazda race in 2015. Pato’s my pick for Saturday’s 250-lapper.
Paul Kelly: Curt and Arni are right: Josef Newgarden’s previous success at Iowa is too tough to ignore. Plus, this sounds weird for a guy who leads the series this season with three wins, but I get the sense Joe New needs a win at Iowa for his title hopes, too. He’s the best driver at Iowa among those competing this weekend by some distance, and he can’t afford to let slip that chance to score big points, especially since he’s 44 points behind leader Marcus Ericsson. I’ll take Newgarden to win Sunday, where Team Penske’s strategy calls will be decisive in the longer race. As for Saturday’s 250-lapper, I’m picking Toronto winner Scott Dixon. Sure, “The Iceman” never has won on the fast short track at Iowa, but he has 12 top-10 finishes there, so he knows how to get around the oval. And the last time Dixon won the Astor Challenge Cup, in 2020, he started the season with three consecutive victories. He also has won back-to-back races five times during his illustrious career, with three of those extending to three-peats. Once Dixon starts rolling, he’s tough to stop.