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What to watch for: IndyCar at Iowa

Jun 23, 2013, 1:12 PM EDT

Iowa Corn Indy 250 - Day 1 Getty Images

- Critical day for Marco, RHR: Andretti Autosport has won four times in the IZOD IndyCar Series’ six events at Iowa Speedway, with Marco Andretti winning in 2011 and Ryan Hunter-Reay taking the checkered flag last year en route to the championship. Both of them need to come through with results as they both try to reel in championship leader Helio Castroneves. RHR currently sits second in the standings and lost nine points to Castroneves yesterday after he won the pole (he’s now 25 points off the Brazilian’s pace), while Andretti has slipped to third after electrical issues stopped his run one weekend ago in Milwaukee.

- Bump day, literally: Ask anyone that’s lived in the Midwest – the summers can be hot as a broiler and the winters can be stone cold. Those particular patterns have helped make for a bumpy ride at Iowa Speedway, particularly in Turns 1-2, where the bumps have helped end the day of more than one driver in the past. As mentioned earlier this week, they’re not as bad as they used to be, but teams will still have to make sure their cars are set-up properly in order to deal with them.

- Carving through traffic: Like last weekend at Milwaukee, the short oval at Iowa will put emphasis on dealing with lapped traffic. But with laps ticking by in the 17-to-18 second range, drivers will have to make their decisions quickly when they come upon the backmarkers in the field.

- Fatigue is a factor: Didn’t we just say this? Well, it’s worth emphasizing again. Everybody in the IndyCar paddock is ready for a weekend off after this race, which will end the most grueling stretch they’ll have all year. But teams and drivers alike must remain mentally sharp for a little while longer. Minds can’t wander at 185 miles per hour or on pit road during critical late-race stops.

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