After a year off the IndyCar calendar, Iowa Speedway will be back in 2022 in style. On Thursday, the series announced that the 0.875-mile oval will host a double weekend from July 23-24, 2022, which is expected to increase the number of IndyCar oval races from four to five in 2022.
For the event to happen, IndyCar and the track have received “wide support” from Midwestern supermarket chain Hy-Vee, which will serve as title sponsor for both races next year, called Hy-VeeDeals.com 250 (July 23) and the Hy-Vee Salut aux Farmers 300 (July 24).
As Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and partner of Hy-Vee in several sponsorship deals over the past year, said at Thursday’s press conference, the credit goes to Iowa Go. Kim Reynolds, who he says âbent the armâ of Hy-Vee president, CEO and chairman Randy Edeker to bring Iowa back to the IndyCar calendar.
âShe was very convincing,â Edeker said Thursday. “She asked me if I wanted to dig, so I started working on it.”
Graham Rahal continued the story, saying he met with the folks at Hy-Vee last fall to discuss how they could increase their visibility in the sport after the company served as the main sponsor twice. for RLL in 2020.
âRandy asked me, ‘Are you running in Iowa next year?’â Graham said. âAnd I had to say ‘No’. From there I thought our deal was done, but I quickly could see the cogs spinning on what might result.
âShortly after, (Penske Corp. President Bud Denker) and Roger and I were in the IMS parking lot, and it was mentioned again, and here we are. It’s amazing to see it happen. . “
Since opening the track in 2006, IndyCar has run 15 races on the track, including an annual race from 2007 to 19 and a double in 2020. But last fall, when IndyCar revealed its 2021 schedule, the short track owned by NASCAR was noticeably absent, reducing the number of oval races in the series from six to four. In recent years, IndyCar had to rent the track to NASCAR for the weekend and serve as a promoter, but not having a title sponsor had made it an untenable race to host.
Hy-Vee’s infusion of interest and support, Penske said, made Thursday’s news possible.
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âThis is one of the most exciting race tracks we have raced on,â he said. âWe have to have tracks like Iowa. If we (have the Indy 500) every year, we can’t just run on street circuits or permanent road courses. You have to come to places where the drivers are racing. steering wheel and side by side. “
As Penske explained, the series will continue to rent the site during the multi-year agreement to host the race. It will bring together a group of IndyCar, Hy-Vee and local leaders to help promote and manage the event. And the two races, he said, will be among 13 to be held next year on NBC television.
Given Penske’s desire to have an oval race early in the season ahead of the Indy 500, it is expected that the IndyCar will return to Texas Motor Speedway for a race in 2022 on the same date as the 1st and 2nd double schedule. May 2 of this year. Along with the 106th edition of the 500s, the series’ annual race at WWT Raceway, held annually since 2017, would increase the total number of IndyCar oval races in total.
Edeker said announcements for other entertainment events related to the race weekend would arrive at a later date, including the possibility of adding a bonus for any driver who won both oval races this weekend. A driver from Team Penske has won four of the last five races there, including Simon Pagenaud’s run from last to first in the opening double weekend race a year ago. Currently, Josef Newgarden (2016, 2019 and 2020) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012, 2014 and 2015) are the most successful IndyCar drivers on the track with three each.
Hy-Vee sponsors Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s 3rd full-time car
A little over a year ago, Hy-Vee took an interest in America’s first open wheel racing series, as the main sponsor of Graham Rahal’s # 15 Honda in the second stage of the 2020 Iowa doubles program, where the driver placed third.
The company then sponsored Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s third entry for the 2020 Indy 500, driven by Spencer Pigot. They have since sponsored the team’s third appearance in the 500 in 2021 for Santino Ferrucci, along with nearly half a dozen other races for Ferrucci and Rahal.
Edeker said Thursday that this trend will continue, as Hy-Vee prepares to serve as the main sponsor for RLL’s last full-time entry, No.45, Honda, in 2022.
He revealed images of the car’s future liveries which will include white, red and black versions of the same design. Additionally, these cars will not include any brands of PepsiCo, as they have done several times with Mountain Dew and Cheetos this year. A pilot for this route has not yet been announced.
RLL will race No.45 for the final three West Coast races of the year – Portland, Laguna Seca and Long Beach – with drivers yet to be announced, as they determine who they will drive the car full time next season. In his five races this year, Ferrucci finished in the top 10 in each of his first four races, including sixth place in the Indy 500. Last week, Formula 2 driver Christian Lundgaard raced his first IndyCar race in the entry on the IMS road course, qualifying fourth and finishing 12th.
Lundgaard and 2020 IndyCar rookie Oliver Askew tested for RLL in July, and Askew remains a driver on the team’s radar and a potential option moving forward.