NEWTON, Iowa – There was a spectator in the Iowa Speedway pits Saturday whose interest may have been more keen than most watching Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying for the Iowa Corn 300.
Pastor Maldonado, who drove the last five years in Formula One, was in Sebastien Bourdais’ pit as a guest of KVSH Racing co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. Maldonado drove in 96 F1 races over five seasons with Williams and Lotus, winning the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix to become the first Venezuelan driver to win an F1 race.
“I’ve been always interested in the Indy racing cars,” the 31-year-old Maldonado said. “It’s quite different than Formula One. Then I was even more interested to see an oval race because it’s completely different. So here we are trying to enjoy the weekend and it’s very interesting.”
Currently without a fulltime ride in motorsports, Maldonado was prepared to answer the obvious question regarding his attraction to competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“The organization is pretty good, there’s very good teams,” he said. “The (Iowa) track itself is short and that’s more spectacular for the spectators. It’s quite interesting.
“It’s still very early but we’ll see.”
Veach rides to rescue for children’s hospital visit
Zach Veach, driver in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, is a veteran of children’s hospital visits organized by Racing For Kids, so the 21-year-old Ohioan knows how important they are.
When the Belardi Auto Racing driver learned that the annual stop by Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines was in jeopardy due to changing schedules of other drivers slated to attend, Veach didn’t hesitate to volunteer.
Veach made the nearly 500-mile drive from Indianapolis earlier than planned Friday so he could spend time with the young patients at the hospital – many facing painful medical procedures. Blank Children’s Hospital has been a regular stop for Racing For Kids since INDYCAR began racing at Iowa Speedway in 2007.
“Zach did an awesome job,” said Lori De Vries, child life specialist at Blank. “He did a great job of talking to the patients and answering all of their questions about racing and how fast he went. They really enjoyed his visit and learning about Indy racing.”
Alexander Rossi ran 125 laps in the first Verizon IndyCar Series practice with one goal in mind: to reach the 2,500-mile plateau so that his No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda could receive a fresh engine. The Honda powerplant that he "mileaged out" is special, however, because it was in the Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian car when Rossi won the 100th Indianapolis 500 in May. ... Andretti Autosport's Dean Stoneman set the pace in two practice sessions for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires with a top lap of 19.7097 seconds (163.290 mph) in the No. 27 Stellrecht Dallara IL-15. Indy Lights will qualify and race Sunday. ... When INDYCAR and Iowa Speedway officials announced Saturday the extension of the agreement to run the Iowa Corn 300 through 2018, track president Jimmy Small manipulated a line from the 1989 feature film "Field of Dreams" about a farmer who builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield. Star Kevin Costner hears a voice in the movie saying, "If you build it, they will come." Small said, in Iowa Speedway's case, "If you build it, they will keep coming."