Iowa starting grid to be set by three separate heat races

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Eric Mauk

Indy Car announced its qualifying procedures for the June 22 Iowa Corn 250, setting forth a plan that will include rewards for the fastest practice times as well as heat races that will determine the final grid.

The field will be set through the results of three 30-lap heat races, to be held on the evening on June 23, but the makeup of the heats will be determined by the times set in 90 minutes of practice the day before.

The drivers posting the top-eight times in practice will be the only ones to run in the final heat, which sets the first four rows of the race. The remainder of the field set by the first two heats, which will be split into even- and odd-numbered positions based on the practice times as well. For example, the first heat will contain the even-numbered finishers from practice starting with the 10th position. That heat sets the even-numbered positions in the starting field behind the top eight, so the winner of the first heat will start 10th on Sunday’s grid. The second heat sets the odd-numbered side starting with the ninth position.

2011 Iowa winner Marco Andretti goes under Helio Castroneves
2011 Iowa winner Marco Andretti goes under Helio Castroneves

Photo by: IndyCar Series

“I think it’s good and am looking forward to trying it out,” said Texas winner Justin Wilson. “It has the potential to be a great show.”

The new qualifying procedure dials a little more interest into today Indy Car testing at Iowa Speedway, as it is possible that there could be a draft effect on the .875-mile oval – which would allow multi-car teams to pack up and build their practice speeds to gain entry into the final heat.

The qualifying procedure is currently slated as an experimental run for this race only. Indy Car is still searching for the sweet spot on oval-track qualifying, as the format for Iowa will be the fourth different one used by Indy Car on ovals this year.

"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," said Indy Car President of Competition Beaux Barfield. "It's going back to the heritage of short-track races."

The series will also use the double-file restarts at Iowa, a procedure that was met with doubt by the drivers upon its introduction, but has proven to be a boon to the racing action.

"We've had a lot of firsts at Iowa Speedway with INDYCAR and the mini-races are another first," said Stan Clement, president of Iowa Speedway. "With the new car and the heat races, fans who attend the Iowa Corn Indy 250 weekend will get racing on both days."

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Series INDYCAR
Tags andretti, featured, indy car, iowa, mauk, wilson