The last time IndyCar was at Iowa Speedway, the NBC broadcast booth was responsible for arguably the worst announcer jinx in sports.
IndyCar is set to return to Iowa Speedway for the third doubleheader at the track in the last four years this weekend. The Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart is scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 22, and the Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade is scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 23.
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden has been dominant at the four-turn, 0.894-mile (1.439-kilometer) Newton, Iowa oval over the years.
He is a four-time winner at the track, and he has led at least 100 laps seven of the last nine races there. He has led at least 200 laps on five of those occasions. Since 2018, he has led 1,112 of the 1,650 laps that have been contested at the track.
Newgarden won the first race of the doubleheader last year, leading 208 of 250 laps after starting on the front row. After another front row start in race number two, he led 148 of the first 234 laps and appeared to be well on his way to another victory.
Then out of nowhere, his race ended in the wall.
“He may not want to be the favorite, but he may have to get used to being called the king of corn country, because Josef Newgarden is trying to win number five here today,” said NBC Sports announcer Kevin Lee, just before a side-by-side commercial break on lap 235 of the 300-lap race.
Newgarden was indeed well on his way to his fifth Iowa Speedway victory and his fifth victory of the 2022 season. Literally seconds later, he spun out and hit the turn four wall. A shock failure was later identified as the cause.
We have certainly seen announcer jinxes in IndyCar before, and with fewer than 65 laps remaining in a race.
Think back to Marco Andretti in the 2006 Indy 500. That is certainly up there with the worst of them. But to argue against the significance of Newgarden’s Iowa Speedway crash — in itself and long-term — would not do it justice.
Plus, the way it unfolded was just plain bizarre — and, no pun intended, quite corny.
Factoring in the points swing created by this incident, Newgarden would have won his third championship had it not happened. He scored nine points instead of 53, and teammate Will Power scored 42 instead of 37. Newgarden ultimately lost the championship battle to Power by 16 points.
Ironically, Newgarden, who has now recorded three-straight runner-up finishes in the standings, also would have won his third championship in 2021 if not for a gearbox failure on the final restart at Road America, marking two straight seasons in which an untimely car issue ultimately cost him the title.
Despite his Iowa Speedway dominance, Newgarden has yet to sweep a doubleheader at the track. Can he change that with win numbers five and six this weekend?
The Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart is scheduled to be broadcast live on NBC from Iowa Speedway beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET this Saturday, July 22, and the Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade is scheduled to be broadcast live on NBC from Iowa Speedway starting at 2:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, July 23. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss either event!