IndyCar will return next season to Iowa Speedway, a short oval track beloved by fans and drivers that had fallen off the schedule after 14 years.
The track in Newton will host a doubleheader next July in a deal brokered between IndyCar Series owner Roger Penske, team owner Bobby Rahal and grocery chain Hy-Vee, which is based in Iowa. The company has been slowly increasing its presence in IndyCar as an occasional sponsor for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Hy-Vee was named the entitlement sponsor of the July 22-23 races in Thursday’s announcement attended by Penske, Rahal and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.
“With our strong connection to local communities and involvement in the state, we plan to host an event that will receive national attention and make Newton an annual destination for racing fans,” said Randy Edeker, chairman of Hy-Vee.
Iowa Speedway opened in 2006 and IndyCar added the track to its schedule the next season. IndyCar ran 15 races at the “The Fastest Short Track on the Planet,” including a doubleheader last year that Penske Entertainment promoted as the series tried to salvage its season during the pandemic.
The track, which was bought by NASCAR in 2013, dropped off the IndyCar schedule this year and likely would not have returned without a title sponsor. NASCAR pulled the Xfinity and Truck Series races from Iowa after the 2019 season and only sent its minor league ARCA Series to Newton the last two years.
Bobby Rahal has been persistent in his push to get Iowa back on the IndyCar schedule as a much-needed oval for a series heavy on road and street courses. IndyCar has just four races on three ovals this year, with the final one coming up Saturday night outside St. Louis.
The 2022 doubleheader will be part of a festival-type weekend at the track located about 30 miles east of Des Moines.
“Over the years, Iowa has proven to be a fitting showcase for North America’s premier open-wheel series,” said Penske, who called the track “a key oval and a hallmark on our schedule.”
“The state is rich with racing history and has a strong appreciation for IndyCar and its terrific drivers and teams,” Penske added.
The 0.875-mile, D-shaped oval has been a playground for Penske drivers. Team Penske won five of the last six IndyCar races at the track. Josef Newgarden is a three-time winner at Iowa.
IndyCar has yet to announce its entire 2022 schedule but Indianapolis, Gateway, Iowa and Texas should account for at least five oval events next year.