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IndyCar Iowa I

Grosjean: Ovals are still challenging but Iowa is fun

Andretti Autosport-Honda’s Romain Grosjean says he’s still finding ovals a challenge but he loves the fact that Iowa Speedway’s nature will ensure passing opportunities.

Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport Honda

Former F1 ace Grosjean, who made his oval debut at Gateway’s World Wide Technology Raceway last season, is about to start only his fourth and fifth oval races in Iowa’s double-header Hy-Vee IndyCar Race Weekend.

Asked how he feels about the left-turn-only tracks, the Swiss-born Frenchman replied: “I think it's definitely not easy for a European driver to come and do the ovals. If you look at it, we have four races on ovals, that's it. It's not that many.

“Every one is quite specific in what you need to know, where the car is going to go on an 80-lap stint. It's difficult.

“I'm still trying to rely a lot on my teammates. And my feedback as well, trying to feel confident and comfortable in the car mainly. It's still quite tricky.”

However, despite the challenge, and the fact that the ovals currently on the schedule – Texas Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and WWT Raceway – are so different from each other, he said he enjoyed the 0.894-mile course in Newton, IA.

He said: “I like short ovals because there's two lanes and that makes it really fun. There's nothing worse than sitting in one lane and following the guy in front of you 60, 70-plus laps.”

 

With IndyCar allowing only a single 90-minute practice on Friday before qualifying on Saturday morning, Andretti Autosport was among the teams that tested at the venue, and Grosjean said that was a considerable help.

“When you arrive at Iowa and you leave the pit, it's a challenge to get on the racetrack, it's so bumpy,” he said. “Just getting comfortable with that, with the pit entry, with the bumps in Turns 1 and 3, 4, knowing where they are. Again, we went out, I am like, Bloody hell, it's slippery and bumpy. So you forget. Then as you go into the session, it gets better…

“It’s a very short track, very bumpy. Before you know it you're back on the start/finish line. It's very hard to relax in the car. Even adjusting, the straight line is so short that it's hard. Obviously it's quite different from Texas and Indy. A little bit more like Gateway.

“But I like it. I think it's good. It has different lines. I think it's good you need to set up your car to get around the bumps. The short oval with two lanes of racing is really good.”

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