Opinion: Penske's Corn Riddled Futility

Iowa Speedway has become a great venue for IndyCar. Since it's beginning in 2007, the 7/8-mile oval has seen some dramatic racing on a track that races like a super speedway. Nestled in the fields of Newton, Iowa, the literal 'Field of Dreams' track has become a favorite for many fans.

And yet, there's one team that probably gets sick of showing up every year based on their success, and that's Team Penske.

Despite having good setups and great qualifying positions, things never seem to come together for Penske. With some of the best drivers and arguably the best equipment, it would seem like a forgone conclusion that Penske would be winning left and right at Iowa. And yet, in ten prior attempts, Penske has zero wins.

Josef Newgarden at Phoenix (Photo: IndyCar Media)

Let's roll through the stats for Team Penske at Iowa over ten years:

Wins - 0
Number of entries - 28
Poles - 5
Podiums - 3
Average Start - 5.5
Average Finish - 10.9
Change in position - -150
Laps Led (out of a possible 7,550) - 559
Laps Completed (out of a possible 7,550) - 6,538
Laps Completed Perecentage - 86.5%
Running at Finish - 21
Running at Finish Percentage - 75%

So the stats tell us that they qualify well and have the pace, but somewhere in the race, things go terribly wrong. And with such a large sample size, it's hard to argue with the numbers.

However, there's room for hope this year though. After a recent test at Iowa, the conclusion was that the Chevrolet powered cars, thanks in large part to their aero kits, would be significantly faster than the Honda cars. Ed Jones, driver of the Dale Coyne Racing powered Honda car, was quoted as saying, "I think short ovals are still going to be our weak spot because of the aerokit. The other manufacturer (Chevrolet) just has a stronger aero package and it's going to be similar to what we saw in Phoenix." Graham Rahal, another Honda driver, agreed with Jones too.

Advantage Penske.

There's only been one short oval so far this season, and Simon Pagenaud won it (Phoenix).

Advantage Penske.

The team brought in phenom Josef Newgarden, who won last year's race at Iowa with Ed Carpenter Rracing after leading the most laps in a single race in IndyCar history.

Advantage Penske.

Will Power and Helio Castroneves are proven winners on ovals, and are looking for a chance to pad their prolific resumes.

Advantage Penske.

So, while you always expect the greatest team in IndyCar history to be a threat at every race, this really feels like the year that Team Penske gets over their bad luck at Iowa and finally wins. If I had to pick one, I would bet on Newgarden.

Their biggest challenger on the weekend? Well, I'd have to go with Josef's old comrades at Ed Carpenter Racing with drivers Ed Carpenter and JR Hildebrand.

Thanks for reading!

-Matthew Hickey