NEWTON, Iowa – From one Midwestern short oval to another, Dale Coyne Racing drivers Pippa Mann and Tristan Vautier made the trip to Iowa to compete in the Iowa Corn 300. As the shortest oval track on the schedule, Iowa Speedway is a .875-mile tri-oval with variable banking. With laps under 18 seconds, it's exceptionally demanding physically and mentally on drivers.
Tristan Vautier has participated in four open wheel races at Iowa Speedway, three in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series and one in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He has a best finish of 4th in the Indy Lights Series. Pippa Mann made her first race start at Iowa Speedway and, with the condensed schedule, made getting a handle on a new track difficult for the second weekend in a row.
Both Dale Coyne Racing drivers were pleased with the handling of the cars as they rolled off of the truck. They spent most of the track time on Friday looking for more outright speed and found enough to be competitive with their Honda equipped competitors. Vautier qualified 20th and Mann earned a 22nd starting position.
Tristan Vautier started the race with a hard charge up the running order and found himself in 16th by lap 31. He continued to hang tough in the middle part of the field and had some epic back and forth battles with previous series champions Will Power and Sebastien Bourdais.
With only 50 laps left, Vautier brought his car to pit lane from third position, but since it was under green flag conditions, the stop put him one lap behind the eventual race winner. “Unfortunately, the last time [Power] passed me he took the air away and I lost a lot of track positions,” recalled Vautier. “This is what put us a lap down but it was a lot of fun fighting for that top 10.” Vautier ended up finishing the race as the first car one lap down in 12th position.
Pippa Mann had a difficult proposition starting towards the rear of the field with last week’s race winner, Sebastien Bourdais, starting behind her. She held her own with the field and managed to stay on the lead lap for nearly 70 laps and got her way up to 18th position.
Mann’s day ended early on lap 141 due to poor handling. As the weather changed, her No. 18 car picked up a massive push and inordinately heavy steering. “Once we got to the second stop and the leaders were coming again, I made the decision to park the car before I made a mistake that crashed our car and maybe ruined another driver's day,” said Mann. She desperately wanted a better result on the night, but made the prudent call for the benefit of all.
The Verizon IndyCar Series is heading into its final stretch of the season in August with three races remaining. After an off weekend, teams will head to Lexington, OH for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. This dedicated road course should host some great racing and really allow team engineers to show off the capabilities of the new aero kits. The race can be seen live on CNBC at 1:30 PM EST and can also be found on the IMS Radio Network Sirius 212/XM 209.