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Andretti Autosport’s quartet goes for seventh heaven in Iowa

Iowa Corn Indy 300 - Day 2

NEWTON, IA - JULY 12: Ryan Hunter-Reay driver of the #28 Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda celebrates after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB at the Iowa Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

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Among the famous lines from Kevin Costner’s “Field of Dreams” movie is the line where Costner’s dad in the movie ponders, “Is this heaven?” to which Costner replies, “It’s Iowa.”

For Andretti Autosport, the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway has been the team’s personal heaven - it goes for seventh heaven this weekend in the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Iowa Corn 300 (Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN) after winning each of the last six races here since 2010 (and seven overall, having won the series’ maiden trip in 2007).

The team has already secured the biggest race win of the year with Alexander Rossi’s famous win in the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, but since that point the team has only one podium finish, when Ryan Hunter-Reay came third at the second race in Detroit.

Hunter-Reay is a three-time Iowa Speedway winner (2012, 2014 and 2015) and looks for his third straight, fourth overall win at Iowa. The driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda sits 11th in points but is only 29 points behind Scott Dixon, who sits fourth.

“Iowa is certainly one of the highlights on the schedule for our team,” Hunter-Reay said in the team’s advance release. “Great facility, great racing and we have a pretty impressive record to defend.”

Andretti Autosport does still have two drivers in the top 10 in points. Rossi - who has won the series’ most recent completed oval race - sits 10th in points while Carlos Munoz scored the pole at the now-postponed Texas Motor Speedway round and is highest of the quartet in seventh. Thing is, the two drivers are only separated by five points.

Munoz, who was an under-the-radar good fifth place here last year and 12th in 2014, is keen to secure his first oval win an IndyCar in his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda, while Rossi will look for a solid result in his Iowa race debut. He had a small spin in testing but nothing that damaged his No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda beyond minor repairs.

“Iowa has been a great track for Andretti the past couple years. We tested there last week and the track is much different than it was last year, so we will see how competitive we will be this year,” Munoz said.

Rossi added, “We just tested there last week and I have to say that it’s a pretty crazy track and have no doubt it will be very entertaining for the fans.”

We come next to Marco Andretti, in desperate need of any result of note after a challenging season to date.

The driver of the No. 27 Snapple Honda sits 17th in points with only one top-10 result, but he’s traditionally strong at Iowa. The 2011 race winner there has four podium finishes in nine previous starts, and is one of only four drivers who’ve run every Iowa race.

“I really enjoy the Iowa track, and we’ve had success there with six straight wins as a team,” he said. “Our focus is on keeping that streak going this weekend.

“On the 27 side, I need to turn my season around in a big way and hopefully Iowa can be a start for that.”

Past Andretti Autosport winners at Iowa include Dario Franchitti (2007), Tony Kanaan (2010), Andretti (2011), Hunter-Reay (2012, 2014 and 2015) and James Hinchcliffe (2013).

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