The Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway is the only short oval on the 2017 IndyCar Series calendar. As such, expect close racing, plenty of overtakes, and anyone to win. The 0.875-mile track takes just 18 seconds to complete, therefore use the spotter’s guide, it’ll be very handy. On race day on July 9, here are three things to watch for.

Esteban Gutierrez’s oval debut

The 25-year-old will finally see action on an oval for Dale Coyne Racing after being subbed for at Texas. Gutierrez has been cleared to race by IndyCar officials after questions about his oval racing experience was raised. The former Formula 1 driver, will seek to prove doubters wrong in just his fourth career IndyCar start. With Iowa featuring a short oval, expect pack racing; how Gutierrez deals with close traffic throughout will be key to his race.

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Honda’s oval fix

It was reported that Honda Performance Development has brought new units to Iowa. These new units include a fix on the component that failed and caused the Indianapolis 500 retirements of three drivers, including Fernando Alonso. Honda hope that the component will close the gap to Chevrolet on ovals. HPD have stated only a select number will receive the upgraded engine and more will be distributed in Toronto. Of Honda’s five victories only one have been on ovals—the Indy 500. Honda hope that the upgrade will lessen the strain the engine feels at full throttle. With the oval upgrade coming at a short oval, where full throttle is the entire lap; look for Honda to use Iowa as a testing session for oval reliability.

The mid-pack, small team runners

With Honda bringing an upgrade and Chevy hoping for another oval victory; the safe bet would be to look at Team Penske, Andretti Autosport, or Chip Ganassi Racing for the winner, but don’t be so sure. IndyCar this year is about parity, eight different winners have won, with four winners coming from small teams. Like the Indy 500 pole at Iowa is not crucial, so look for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports or Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (both, already race winners and Honda-powered) to challenge for the win.

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