Ryan Hunter-Reay returns to Victory Lane while the points leader crashes and tempers flare between front-runners.
Ryan Hunter-Reay said on Friday that he felt like he didn’t have a car he could lean on.
Tonight, he had that car.
Hunter-Reay earned a long-sought victory in the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300, beating Josef Newgarden and Sage Karam in the first all-American podium in an IndyCar race since the 2006 Indianapolis 500.
Americans sweep podium
For the first time since the 2006 Indianapolis 500, Americans swept the podium in a Verizon IndyCar Series event with Ryan Hunter-Reay leading Josef Newgarden and Sage Karam. Another American in Graham Rahal was fourth.
Hunter-Reay’s win was very similar to his previous two wins in terms of how his car performed.
“As the sun went down, I just kept my foot in it, kept my head down, and kept positive about it, because it didn’t feel very good at the start, but was hoping it would come to it and it did, that’s how we won this race the past two times was being really strong at the end of the race,” Hunter-Reay said.
Carpenter vs. Karam
The action centered around Karam and his moves to get around Ed Carpenter. Karam was moving his car through the upper portions of the field that made Carpenter angrily gesture at Karam while they were going at full speed.
Karam was neither fazed by Carpenter’s gesture nor by Carpenter’s angry, profanity-laden tirade immediately after getting out of the car.
“We [Carpenter and I] both had fast cars, but my car was definitely a lot better than his and definitely faster. He was holding me up and I’m starting to push the issue and he’s trying to pin me down. So, you know it’s a very bumpy place and when you get pushed down to the bottom, the car tends to drift up, and I needed to get around him so I needed to push the issue and he just kept me pinned, and obviously he knows I’m going to drift up. I drifted up and I guess he just was a little mad that I didn’t give him enough room but, you know, that’s racing,” Karam said.
Newgarden just misses out on third win
Newgarden was able to lead the most laps, at 111, was unable to close on Hunter-Reay late in the race. However, he was quite pleased with this runner-up finish.
“I think this is more of a true second place than last year, I won’t sugar coat last year, we definitely got lucky with the tires, we executed well but we got lucky, we weren’t a second place car last year. Tonight we were a winning car I think, so to finish second was bittersweet but for sure I think it was very deserved for the team, they really put a top class race car out there so I was very satisfied with that and I think the team can be too, so it was kind of a tossup,” Newgarden said.
This was Honda’s second win in the last three races in a season wrought with frustration for the Japanese auto giant.
The weekend began with Chevrolet going 1-2 in the first practice session with Hunter-Reay third fastest, but session two was a Chevrolet whitewash with the first 11 positions going to Chevrolet. Hunter-Reay was 12th.
However, Hunter-Reay’s car came on strong as the race went on, leading the last 37 laps and leading Honda to a 1-4-5 result.
Montoya crashes out, Dixon misses out, and Rahal cashes in
Championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya ended his streak of 18 consecutive finishes with a crash on the tenth lap of the race. His streak extended to last year’s Iowa Corn 300 where he crashed after battling with Carpenter.
Scott Dixon was second in points heading into the race weekend and he finished 18th, losing 37 laps after his team repaired a mechanical failure in the back of his car. Dixon gained six points on Montoya but lost second place in the standings. Graham Rahal gained 27 points, reducing the gap to 42 points between himself and Montoya.