I don’t think anyone is giving Schmidt Peterson Motorsports enough credit for just how good that they’ve been on ovals this season. Yes, James Hinchcliffe missed out on the Indianapolis 500 in May, but look at what he’s done on the other two ovals in 2018. Hinch, started fifth and finished sixth back in April at Phoenix. He also led 20 laps that night. In Texas, he charged from his 15th starting spot to bring his No. 5 Honda home fourth.
What about his rookie teammate Robert Wickens? The Canadian is fearless. He’s never raced on an oval before coming to INDYCAR this year and here he is with shots to win at all three of them.
Wickens, led 44 laps at Phoenix and finished runner-up. He finished in the top 10 of the Indianapolis 500 and earned Rookie of the Race honors. At Texas, he was lightning quick and if not for a crash while trying to pass a lapped car in Ed Carpenter late in the race, he was likely winning that night too.
“I think Iowa is going to be a pretty crazy race,” said the talented rookie. “I’m still trying to get used to these ovals, especially with Iowa being a high-banked short track. I’m really looking forward to learning something new. The goal for the weekend, like it has been on any oval, is to try to make it to the end and hopefully we can be in the top 10 in the final stint. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, and I think qualifying is going to be very important. I’m pretty confident that everyone on the No. 6 Lucas Oil car will do a good job to get us up front.”
Now, they head to another oval at Iowa Speedway in hopes to contend for a win again.
Wickens, has never raced at Iowa before but look at what he did at the other three ovals and that will tell you what you need to know about his chances in his No. 6 Honda to win Sunday’s Iowa Corn 300 (2 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network). Hinchcliffe though has been superb in his six starts in Iowa.
Hinchcliffe, led 226 laps en route to a win in 2013. He finished sixth, ninth and 10th respectively since. In his rookie start, he also came home ninth again. Five top 10 finishes in six tries. Mix all of that with how well they’ve done on ovals in 2018 and you get a possible race win this weekend.
“Iowa is one of the funnest little races of the whole year,” Hinchcliffe said. “That track is so exciting; short-track racing in INDYCAR is always awesome. Our test there last week was pretty productive. It’s crazy going to some of these new tracks with the lower downforce and try to wrap your head around it. We learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to getting back there in the Arrow Electronics car for the race as it’s usually a really fun event.”