Your weekly advice on who to pick for your star line-up! Read what Firehawk and Fast Cars Fast Girls have to say about the Iowa Corn 300.
Lock – Will Power
Will Power has never won at Iowa Speedway. The pole sitter has never won at Iowa Speedway. I think both those statements might be null and void after this weekend. Power captured the Iowa Corn 300 pole for the second consecutive time Saturday (third of his career), and while history is not on his side, the veteran Penske driver has demonstrated that 2018 may be a year of firsts and has driven well so far this season. After capping a perfect Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his first career Indy 500 win, Power fell on some tough luck recently with an P18 finish in Texas and a P23 finish at Road America where his day ended less than three laps into the race. I think the tide is set to turn for Power again at Iowa. The Aussie driver had a great day Saturday, beating out teammate Josef Newgarden to capture the pole with an average speed of 182.391 MPH, and was P2 in Practice 1. It’s tough to not pick Newgarden (2016 Iowa Corn 300 winner) this week, but I’m going to lock in Power because I think it may be his turn to top the podium in Iowa.
Drop – Marco Andretti
Iowa Speedway is home to one of Marco Andretti’s two career Verizon IndyCar® Series wins, but he’s my drop for the Iowa Corn 300. In fact, the 2011 Iowa Corn Indy 250 marks the last time Andretti won a race, and he has an average finishing position of P11 in the six races at Iowa Speedway since. Teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi qualified third and fifth, respectively (and rookie teammate Zach Veach qualified 14th), but Andretti was unable to match the pace set by his teammates, leaving him P19 when the qualifying dust had settled. With 18 drivers in front of him and a $21 price tag, this bird is looking elsewhere for his fantasy picks this week.
Sleeper – Zach Veach
Speaking of Zach Veach, he’s the sleeper I think might wake up this week. Sure, 14th isn’t an ideal starting spot, but the rookie driver was P5 in the first practice Saturday and seems to be growing more confident and getting more comfortable with each passing race. I’m not sure Iowa will be home to his first career win, but I’ll put my money where my beak is and count on him for a top-10 finish this week. Not to mention, at just $14, you can snag Veach cheap and throw those extra dollars towards your other three picks.
I’m not playing favorites this week, but I am going with a Penske-heavy lineup. Power’s on the pole, Newgarden’s coming in hot as the only driver with three wins this year, and Simon Pagenaud is overdue for his first win of 2018. Not to mention, Power ($27), Newgarden ($31), Pagenaud ($27) and Veach ($14) bring you to an even $100. Lock those picks in, grab your (pop)corn, sit back, and enjoy what is sure to be a fun race on this short oval.
Fast Cars Fast Girls
Lock – Ryan Hunter-Reay
I think RHR looks really good for this race. He’s having a great season, and he’s won this race 3 times. He’s pricey at $32, but he’s been delivering this year!
Drop – Graham Rahal
This week I’m dropping Graham Rahal...he’s starting in 12th, and I think he’ll do alright; but for $28 I just think I can spend that money more efficiently.
Sleeper – Ed Jones
Ed is my sleeper pick this week. He’s $22, but that’s a pretty good price considering how well he does on ovals. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him with a top 5 finish
Lock - Ed Carpenter
The cars of Ed Carpenter Racing have always done particularity well at Iowa. In 2016 Josef Newgarden won (with the broken wrist and collarbone), in 2017 J.R Hildebrand finished the race in second. Ed has an average finish of 9th place (technically 9.67 but I’m rounding in Driver’s favor). For the test session earlier this month he was tenth quickest out of the drivers, the only thing I really count on test sessions are is getting the driver a feel for the track and letting teams figure out what may not work. The series' Oval Specialist has continued to want that win but just has not reached it, but short oval racing hearkens back to Carpenter's roots and I think he's going to be Top 5 at least.
Drop - Matheus Leist
I don't think the issue is particularly with the driver, but there is a systemic issue going on with AJ Foyt Racing. I would wager they're not competing at the level they would like to be. Maybe they are struggling with their set up, maybe they are struggling with the strategy of races. Leist has finished an average of 16th and particularly in ovals he has finished an average of 18th. He was the slowest at the test session in Iowa earlier this month (or I suppose late in June). Leist doesn't have the veteran experience of Tony Kanaan, which would allow Kanaan to place well despite the struggles of the team. Wait on Leist, see if the team can get the struggles fixed before you pick him back up, especially with oval racing.
Sleeper - Gabby Chaves
Gabby Chaves is an overall sleeper, but I have a feeling things are going to get better for him in this race. Chaves always brings the car home, he's not crashed the car (and he's average a final position of 14th in the prior ovals including a 15th place finish in Texas, a somewhat shorter oval similar to Iowa. He did rank 11th at the Iowa testing, he will have the muscle memory from the testing, this paired with his record makes him a great pick when you’ve got that last amount of money left, he’s $13 and is worth every penny.
All this being said my choices for Iowa are: Rossi, Carpenter, Chaves, and RHR
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