Will Power (12) enters Saturday night's race at Iowa tied for the championship lead. (Photo: Getty Images)

Will Power (12) enters Saturday night’s race at tied for the championship lead. (Photo: Getty Images)

When it comes to racing in front of the grass roots fans, nothing beats a Verizon Series race at Iowa Speedway.

This is the heart of open-wheel Sprint Car country with the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame just 30 miles down the road in Knoxville, Iowa. And the highest rung of open-wheel racing in the United States is the IndyCar Series and its annual trip to the 0.875-mile short track draws a sizeable crowd of knowledgeable fans that know the drivers throughout the field in the Iowa Corn Indy 300.

The state of Indiana may be the home of this sport but the open-wheel fans in Iowa come in a close second when it comes to appreciation for this form of racing.

And that is why drivers such as Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and of the United States and of Brazil love this mid-summer night’s race in IndyCar’s “Field of Dreams.”

Hunter-Reay won this race in 2012 and teammate James Hinchcliffe of Canada is the defending winner at Iowa when he finished just ahead of Andretti Autosport teammate Hunter-Reay. It was the fourth-straight Iowa win for Andretti Autosport. Kanaan finished third driving for KV Racing and is back this year for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Iowa has been a good track for me,” Kanaan said. “I’ve actually finished on the podium the last four years in a row. We’re hoping for a much better weekend than last weekend at Pocono (when he led four times for a race high of 78 laps but had to pit for fuel just four laps from the checkered flag) and try to get our first win of the season here.

“My past record sure does help but it’s a different year. You can’t say that just because we had such good results in the past four years that we’ll have a good year again this year. But this has been a track where I’ve done well.”

IndyCar owner/driver Ed Carpenter epitomizes the type of driver that best represents Iowa Speedway. He advanced through the ranks of the United States Auto Club (USAC) Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown divisions before competing in Indy Lights and then IndyCar.

Carpenter has three career victories all coming on ovals. He attempts to get his first short oval victory Saturday night when the green flag starts the race at 8:50 p.m. ET.

“I enjoy short-track racing and this is the most unique short track we go to because short track and high-downforce racing,” Carpenter said. “At the same time it’s fast racing, multiple lanes, so it’s a lot of fun wheel-to-wheel action. I like the type of racing that’s close and fast and multiple lanes. It’s always nice when the high line develops, which usually can here. It’s fun.”

Team Penske drivers Will Power and Helio Castroneves are both tied for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship lead with 446 points apiece. Simon Pagenaud is third, 44 behind; Juan Pablo Montoya is fourth, 55 out of the lead and Hunter-Reay is fifth, 58 out of first place.

Iowa has also sent its share of crewmembers to the Verizon IndyCar Series including Travis Law of Maquoketa, the chief mechanic and outside front tire changer for Helio Castroneves’ car; Jeremy Backer from Clear Lake is the inside rear tire changer for Will Power; Brett Snyder is from Muscatine and in the fueler for Sebastian Saavedra; Doug Bradley is from Esterville and is the inside rear tire changer for Hunter-Reay and Rob Channel of Altoona is the airjack operator for driver Jack Hawksworth.

**

Be sure to catch Bruce Martin’s Honda IndyCar Report on RACEDAY on FOX Sports Radio every Sunday from 6-8 a.m. Eastern Time.

Tags: , , ,