Race Report: Hy-VeeDeals.Com 250
NEWTON, Iowa (July 23, 2022) -- The excitement around the Hy-Vee doubleheader at Iowa Speedway was palpable today! Tim McGraw performed before the Hy-VeeDeals.Com 250 and Florida Georgia Line followed up with another concert after the race.
Tim McGraw kicked off the afternoon with a high energy performance.
With ambient temperatures nearing 100 degrees, heat was going to be a factor for the drivers as well as the crews today. However, the Foyt team had solid pit stops and both Kyle Kirkwood and Dalton Kellett drove some of their best races of the season.
Kirkwood, who started 24th in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet, had to endure one difficult stint but as the track changed for his final stint, the car started coming into its own towards the end of the 78-lap stint. He gained four spots in the last 11 laps of the 250-lapper to finish 15th, his second-best finish of the year.
"I think it was a solid day considering where we started P24 to P15," said Kirkwood. "Our car was really good late in the stints. I think the way the race played out, if it was a lot more green running, we would have looked even better. But with all the cautions and people going to new tires very quickly, it put us in a position that we're always on new tires and fresh tires. And then at the end we made hay, we passed four cars right at the end just because we went longer on a stint and our car stayed with it for a longer period. So that's definitely good to know, for tomorrow, because if it stays a lot more green, we'll probably be looking better from our better starting position in 20th."
Questioned about the blistering hot weather, Kirkwood revealed, "Definitely the hottest race of the year.
No doubt. I think it was over 100 degrees for most of the race. And my water was actually too hot to even drink so I didn't drink any water. Cool suit wasn't working anywhere near as much as it has been in the previous races. Which should be even more here because you're going a lot faster and get a lot more air to the radiator. Tomorrow is supposed to be 20 degrees cooler, so that definitely helps everyone, not only myself."
Dalton Kellett started 26th in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet and found himself racing amongst the leaders in one stint as the pit cycles shuffled cars around. He not only maintained but outran some of them before it was his turn to pit. However, unlike Kirkwood whose car was stronger at the end of a stint, Kellett's was stronger at the beginning of the stints. About a third of the way through the last stint of 78 laps Kellett was closing in on Kirkwood who was running 19th. However, the change in the track conditions worked against Kellett and he lost ground to the leaders in the final half of the stint. He finished 20th, which tied his second-best finish of the year.
"It was good to move up a few spots from starting on the last row to bring it home 20th for the No.4 K-Line Chevrolet so that was a good progression for our day," Kellett said. "I think overall we're okay on pace and at the start of the run and the first third of the stint but it really seems like we're abusing the rear tires and just making it pretty tough to hang on towards the end. We'll have to figure out what we can do to keep the tires under us longer in the stint. We went 78 laps on tires in that last and I was hanging on for dear life for the last 30 or 40 laps. So that's a key factor here is how long you keep it underneath you without really losing the front or the rear end too much for us. We're losing the rear so we’ll have to see what we can do to kind of protect those rears a little bit."
Asked if the heat was a factor for him, Kellett replied, "I don't think it factored into it during the race
but definitely afterwards I was feeling pretty...well with the adrenaline I felt fine during the race and as soon as I got out of the car, I was dizzy, my vision was a bit blurry and just a little dazed. I went over and had medical give me the onceover so that was good to get filled up (with fluids) and hydrated for tomorrow. Luckily, it's going to be a little bit cooler but it's a longer race. The physicality of this place is definitely one of the toughest races that we're going to do this year."
Josef Newgarden grabbed the lead from pole sitter Will Power on lap 23 and only relinquished it once to Jimmie Johnson during the pit cycles. He took command on lap 80 and was never headed again. Second through fifth were Pato O'Ward, Power, Rinus Veekay and Scott Dixon. The top five were the only cars to finish on the lead lap.
Tomorrow Will Power will again start from the pole for the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300. Kirkwood will start 20th and Kellett will start 26th in the race which will run an extra 50 laps. Concerts will again bookend the race with Gwen Stefani performing before the race and Blake Shelton afterwards. The race will be broadcast on NBC starting at 3 p.m. ET.
Florida Georgia Line performed after the race to the delight of fans and participants alike!