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Five Drivers To Watch: Iowa

Zachary Houghton
| Jun 21, 2011


The IZOD IndyCar Series is rolling into Newton, Iowa for the Iowa Corn Indy 250, a track that’s provided some very competitive racing over the years.  Dario Franchitti and Will Power are tied in points for the championship, Penske and Ganassi continue their rivalry, and a host of other driver intent on making their name.  That equals some excellent storylines. Here are 5 drivers with their own storylines you’ll want to keep an eye on this weekend:

Tony Kanaan
Last Year’s Result:
You have to start with Iowa’s defending champion. TK had a turbulent year in 2010, but he shined at this oval, pulling away from Helio Castroneves for the win. Coming off a spirited race at Milwaukee where he was the car to beat until he crashed out late in the race, all eyes will be on Kanaan to see if he can repeat at this track. 

The Big Question: Can TK shake off the Milwaukee mishap and be a repeat winner?

EJ Viso
Last Year’s Result:
Watching EJ Viso this year has been akin to having your eye on a ticking time bomb. Race after race, we’ve seen great performances turn into more wrecked carbon fiber. As frustrating as it is for fans, you can only imagine what that team and crew are going through right now. Viso did manage a stellar P3 here last year. As fast as he’s been, it’s going to take that elusive “complete race” to make it happen again.

The Big Question: Can EJ put together one incident-free race?

Oriol Servia
Last Year’s Result:
Newman/Haas Racing has enjoyed a renaissance this year, and Oriol Servia’s been leading the surge on the track (though rookie teammate James Hinchcliffe is no slouch, either). Servia snagged another podium at Milwaukee, and is still hovering at P3 in the overall championship standings. It doesn’t seem like he gets the airtime of the other frontrunners, but if you disregarding the middling Texas finishes, only Dario Franchitti and Will Power have been as consistent.

The Big Question: Can Servia put Newman/Haas back on top with that elusive win?

Graham Rahal
Last Year’s Result:
After a rocky start, Graham Rahal has really been putting together some excellent finishes. This team still has issues qualifying anywhere close to the front, but once the flag drops, it’s another story entirely. He’s racked up a P2 at Brazil, P3 at Indy, P9 in the first Texas race, and now another P2 at Milwaukee. Rahal is quickly scaling the points ladder, and it’s not out of the realm of reason that his next series victory could come soon.  If he qualifies well, great. If not, it’ll be fun to watch him pass cars on his way up front.

The Big Question:  Can Rahal and Co. put together a decent qualifying effort, and if so, can they parlay it into taking the checkered flag?

Simona de Silvestro
Last Year’s Result:
On-air Sunday, ESPN’s Rick DeBruhl called Simona the “Iron Maiden” after documenting the nasty hits she’s come back from in her first two years in the series. Yeah, that fits. Both HVM’s cars and driver have taken more nasty knocks this year than anyone could have foreseen. At this point, it doesn’t look like victory is in the cards, but we’ll be watching to see if Simona and the team can shake off the rough weekend and emerge on the other side intact.

The Big Question:  What does this team have left for the ovals?

Zachary Houghton runs www.indycaradvocate.com, which features regularly-updated INDYCAR, IZOD IndyCar Series, and Mazda Road to Indy interviews, commentary, and more. You can find him on Twitter at @indycaradvocate.



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  16. 16 Zachary 22 Jun

    Hi Ken!

    No, I'm not forgetting Texas at all! Texas was great for Viso, but every other race this year has been a nightmare. I want to see him push to the front, stay there, and finish strong once more.

    Sadly, EJ crashed in practice for Brazil, I believe, though that one at least was a mechanical failure that was not his fault. But my larger point is it's one thing to have a great race weekend--it's putting together multiple incident-free weekends, one at a time, that gets the job done.

    I agree with you--KV is due. I think they win, and soon. Viso, Sato, and TK all have the ability to get it done.


    @Steve M.: I think Mike's happy to just have a ride right now. RHR's season has been awful, but I think he could turn it around fast at Edmonton or Toronto. I'd like to see Mike land a sponsor too, but despite his talent, he's not always the most outgoing driver out there, is he?

  17. 17 Ken 22 Jun
    Zach, I think your short term memory loss is kicking in... for "The Big Question: Can EJ put together one incident-free race?"  EJ already has!  If you think way back to the twin races under the lights in Texas earlier this month, EJ finished in the top 10 twice and won the Tire-ific award for both races. His team mates Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato each earned a top 10 finish there as well.  I believe iof you look back a bit further, he was one of the few to have an incident free race in Brazil, finishing 13th.  EJ is due for a podium as is the rest of the KV Racing team.  Imagine all the jaw dropping looks if they finished 1-2-3 at Iowa!  I believe that this last weekend, had EJ and Tony not made contact, Tony would have won, and EJ would have probably been 3rd behind Dario.
  18. 18 Steve M. 22 Jun
    Will someone please explain to me how Ryan Hunter (I'm having a really bad season)-Reay gets ANOTHER sponsor, and Mike Conway (the AA standard-bearer heading into Indy [then 4th in points, + the ONLY AA driver to win a race, so far, this season]) has NONE? If I were Mike, I'd be seriously exploring ways to get out of my contract with AA, since the team made his position in their hierarchy eminently clear with the "Junqueira/Hunter-Reay Episode" at the Speedway. Excuse me, but, WTF?

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