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Pruett's Preview: Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway

When Ryan Hunter-Reay thinks back to 2014, lasting memories come to mind. The 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion motored to his first win at the legendary Indianapolis 500 in May of 2014, adding his likeness to the famed Borg-Warner trophy and his name to the roster of open-wheel heroes who drove across the yard of bricks and into the history books. 

The American claimed a win earlier in the season at Alabama’s Barber Motorsports Park, and closed his account with a final 2014 win at Iowa, where the series returns for Saturday night’s Iowa Corn 300. RHR’s win at Indy stands out as his greatest achievement last year, and it’s safe to say his come-from-behind victory at Iowa is also fresh in his mind, albeit for a different reason. 

“It’s pretty crazy to think it’s been a year since I won my last race at Iowa!” he said in an exasperated tone. “This has been a tough year for us at Andretti Autosport, and I’m certainly optimistic for Iowa. The team has been strong at Iowa in the past, my teammate Marco Andretti just had a really good test there, and we definitely want to continue our streak of good runs there.”

This year’s Iowa Corn 300 will feature the debut of aero kits at the event as Chevy and Honda use their high-downforce bodywork configurations to increase speeds on the 0.875-mile oval. Some have predicted the aero kits will open up more passing lanes, while others believe the added downforce and drag will generate a higher level of turbulence entering the corners. RHR says we’ll have our answers once the green flag waves at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

“We heard it was slightly difficult to run in traffic—a bit like Milwaukee, but it really takes racing on a track, putting rubber down, and getting to feel the grip that’s available before you can make any predictions on how it will be to race at Iowa,” he added.

RHR and CFH Racing’s Josef Newgarden gambled at the end of the 2014 Iowa race when a late caution period allowed the two to dive into the pits for new tires and use the extra grip in the final laps to pass the leaders and claim a 1-2 finish. The proud father of two says there’s no chance of catching the field by surprise a second time if they’re faced with a similar scenario Saturday night.

“That was a one-time deal,” he said with a laugh. “Everyone will pit for new tires this time.” 

Including Iowa, RHR has four races left on the calendar to keep his winning streak alive. He’s earned at least one victory each year since 2010, and with the championship out of reach, a trip to Victory Lane would be welcome in the run to the season finale on August 30.

“The bottom line is Iowa is one of my favorite tracks, and last year’s race—especially the ending—was a thriller,” he noted. “The car is so important on ovals, so I’m looking forward to having a car that rolls off the trailer fast and hopefully gets us back to the winner’s circle.”

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