Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The competition in the IZOD IndyCar Series is going to heat up this weekend at Iowa Speedway.
In February, IndyCar revealed that three heat races of 30 laps each will replace single-car qualifications for the June 23 event on the 0.875-mile Iowa oval. The groups for each qualifying race will be determined by combined practice session times. Practice and qualifying at Iowa are scheduled for Friday. The 250-lap race is slated for Saturday.
The first heat race will consist of the even-numbered positions, starting with the 10th-quickest practice time overall, and determine the even-numbered positions in the starting field from 10th down.
Race two will feature the odd-numbered positions, starting with the ninth- quickest practice time overall, and determine the odd-numbered positions in the starting field from 9th down.
The third and final race will consist of drivers ranked one through eight by combined practice times. The finishing order of that event will determine the top-eight starting positions, with the winner taking the pole position.
IndyCar's new Iowa oval qualifying procedure will complement the three rounds of qualifications held on road/street courses, culminating in the "Firestone Fast Six."
"The build-up we presently have for the 'Firestone Fast Six' has that excitement, and we wanted to do something similar for the oval events," IndyCar President of Competition and Race Control Director Beaux Barfield said. "It's going back to the heritage of short-track races."
But some drivers are not exactly thrilled with this new qualifying procedure, particularly Will Power, who is the current points leader.
"It makes it harder, actually, because practice determines whether you have a shot at going for the pole, being in that final race," Power said. "I hope it doesn't make things dangerous out there with everybody trying to get the fastest lap in practice. We'll see. I don't know what to say until we try. There's always resistance anytime someone wants change. It just seems like human nature."
Earlier this week, IndyCar officials sent a technical bulletin to teams, informing them of a modification to the cars that will reduce downforce. IndyCar has directed a maximum rear flap angle of 37 degrees with no wicker allowed for this race.
The short oval aerodynamic package utilized at the Milwaukee Mile this past weekend will also be used at Iowa. Twenty-one drivers participated in a test session last week at Iowa to evaluate the aero package for the new Dallara cars.
"I'm interested to see what we have with the new car and new downforce," said Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won at The Milwaukee Mile. "We don't know what to expect there. With the qualifying heats, it's going to be mixed-up, but we'll make the most of it. It's tough because you'll really have to take it easy and not hurt your race car in a heat race. (Teammate) Marco (Andretti) tested there and said it would be tough to pass, but it's always been that way in the past. Then we start the race, and it becomes a 'passfest'."
Andretti won last year's race at Iowa.
"We are coming (to Iowa) ready to win." he said. "We did it last year, and we were really strong in the test. I need a win now more than ever, because we've been fast almost every week, but we just keep having something go wrong."
Power enters this race with a 31-point lead over James Hinchcliffe, while Scott Dixon is 35 points behind.
Twenty-five teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Iowa Corn Indy 250.
Series: IZOD IndyCar. Date: Saturday, June 23. Race: Iowa Corn Indy 250. Site: Iowa Speedway. Track: 0.875-mile oval. Start Time: 9 p.m. (ET). Laps: 250. Miles: 218.75. 2011 Winner: Marco Andretti. Television: NBC Sports Network. Radio: IMS Radio Network/SIRIUS XM Satellite.
06/20 11:54:43 ET