Marco Andretti Scores Win At Iowa Corn Indy 250
Marco Andretti overtook former Andretti Autosport teammate Tony Kanaan on Lap 232 of 250 and went on to a 0.7932-of-a-second victory in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer at Iowa Speedway.
Andretti had passed Kanaan on Lap 209, only to have Kanaan return the favor four laps later. Andretti was running second to Dario Franchitti when they cycled through for their final round of service on Lap 184 under caution. Andretti got out first. On a Lap 199 restart, Kanaan overtook Franchitti for second and the charge to the checkered flag was on.
It was the third victory for Andretti Autosport in the five races at Iowa Speedway, including Kanaan in 2010.
Scott Dixon charged from 23rd on the starting grid to finish third and Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti, who led the most laps, was fifth. Rookie JR Hildebrand, the Indianapolis 500 runner-up, passed Franchitti on Lap 242 for fourth place.
Also on June 25, Josef Newgarden, who overtook pole sitter and Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Esteban Guerrieri on Lap 26, turned a 0.3574 of a second advantage into a 5.4724-second victory.
Newgarden, earning his third victory of the season, improved his championship points lead from 13 to 46 over Guerrieri, who retired midway through the race with a mechanical issue (steering) and was credited with 12th place.
Gustavo Yacaman, driving the No. 2 TMR-Tuvacol-Xtreme Coil Drilling car, recorded a Firestone Indy Lights-best runner-up finish. Clauson, competing in his third Firestone Indy Lights oval race, was 5.8 seconds back but also finished a season-high third.
DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:
It was 1997 and a 23-year-old Dario Franchitti moved to the States to drive for Hogan Racing in CART, which included a mixture of road courses and ovals. Franchitti had a best finish of ninth at Australia, earned his first pole at Toronto and wound up 22nd in the championship standings.
Franchitti, whose best oval finish was 13th at Nazareth, sought and received oval racing input from Rick Mears, who had amassed 29 victories over the course of his career under USAC and CART sanction.
Now, the four-time Indianapolis 500 and six-time series champion (Mears) and the two-time Indianapolis 500 and three-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion (Franchitti) are tied for ninth on the all-time win list.
"If I'd had known that I wouldn't have helped," Mears deadpanned as the drivers discussed the past and future of IndyCar racing and their legacy a few hours before the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer at the Iowa Speedway.
Mears recorded seven USAC- and 22 CART-sanctioned race victories (22 on ovals) in a three-decade Indy car career.
"I had opportunities to do other things over the years, whether it be Formula 1 or (stock cars) or whatever, but I always enjoyed our series because of the diversity of tracks," said Mears, whose first Indy car victory came June 18, 1978, at the Milwaukee Mile. "I felt like you accomplished more if you won the championship; you had to be a more well-rounded driver. That was always the challenge of the series.
"Joking about helping Dario on ovals, he's never needed any help. He's been smooth from the word go, and to me that's one of the key things on the speedways and short ovals. He already had that natural ability and talent. It was just a matter of laps."
Up next for Franchitti, who finished fifth in the race, are former teammate Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais, who are tied with 31 victories. Both will be competing in the Honda Indy Toronto on July 10.
"I'm proud of every single (win) and I never expected to get to this number," said Franchitti, driver of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car who has a 20-point lead over Will Power in the championship standings.
IOWA CORN INDY 250 POST RACE NOTES:
This is Marco Andretti's first win of 2011 and his second win of his Indy car career. His last win was at Infineon Raceway in 2006, 79 races ago. It is his first win on an oval.
This is Andretti Autosport's 38th win in Indy car competition and its third win at Iowa Speedway in five races. It's last win was at Long Beach this year with Mike Conway. It won last year's race here at Iowa Speedway with Tony Kanaan.
Tony Kanaan finished a season-best second place. His previous best finish was third at St. Petersburg.
Scott Dixon finished third after starting 23rd. It is his fourth podium finish this season.
JR Hildebrand finished fourth, his second top-five finish of the season.
Dario Franchitti finished fifth, his seventh top-five finish of the season.
IOWA CORN INDY 250 POST RACE QUOTES
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, winner Iowa Corn Indy 250): (About tonight's win): We were down a little bit on the bigger ovals but we know when it comes down to handling we'd be alright. These guys did a great job with pits. They got me the lead back. We had some good racing with T.K. (Tony Kanaan). It was good fun. The Venom boys were on it tonight. (About battling Kanaan for the win): Knowing TK, I knew he would do exactly what I did to him. He'd make his car very wide. I didn't want to wait until two to go because he was just going to chop me and I would have been done. I knew I had to get it done earlier and actually make my car wide."
TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO-KV Racing Technology-Lotus, finished second): "It was pretty clean until he chopped me off. Congratulations to him. He did a great job. It was a great battle, a great race. We didn't quite have the car. I think towards the end we got a littlw stronger. I'm happy for the team."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, finished third): "It was a good night for Team Target. We didn't have the best car out there, but it was a tough race with lots of traffic. All in all, great day for both cars. We made some changes and got to work on the car which was really loose. It feels like a win coming from 23rd to third."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, finished fourth): "That was my first time up front, rubbin' with those boys. There were a couple of spots that were a little dicey. It may be I'll have to go up to some guys and say, 'sorry about that.' This is a tough place to race, but the Panther Racing guys gave me an awesome car. I'm happy how the whole weekend has gone for the National Guard team."
DARIO FRANCHITTI ( No. 10 Suave, finished fifth): "We had a bit of problem on that last pit stop and Marco got ahead. All night we had been getting more and more oversteer, and once we got in traffic I was toast. We struggled at the end."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske, finished sixth): "The PPG Automotive Refinish car was strong tonight. During that last part of the race we had a fast car, it was definitely capable of being a top-three car, but I just couldn't find my way around a couple of the guys in front of me. All in all it was a good night though. Iowa Speedway is a great track, the stands were full and I think we put on a good show for the fans. I am looking forward to Toronto."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske, finished seventh): "The Guidepoint Systems car was very good tonight. We were good enough to fight for the lead and drive through the field. We were running up front, but once again we had the bad misfortune of the tire going flat. It's a shame, but it happens. From there, we did our best to fight our way back up. It was a great job by the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems guys - they gave me great pit stops and it's what we needed to get back in it. We've got great momentum now. We'll keep plugging away and we'll get that good finish. I know it's coming."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Schmidt Pelfrey Racing, finished 16th): "I'm very proud of the team and the engineering group. The Bowers & Wilkins group gave me a great car. It was unfortunate that the yellow flag killed us. The car was very, very fast, I think I had one of the fastest laps in the race. It's unfortunate because also later on in the race we developed a fuel pickup problem. I couldn't believe how fast we were even with the misfire. This result tonight wasn't really do justice to how fast this car was tonight."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "I lost at the bump in Turn 2. The tires weren't up to temperature. I'm very disappointed to finish the race this way. I feel very sorry for the team and the fans. It's unfortunate because up until then it was looking good.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "I have no idea what happened. We were solid all night, but we had very little track time here because we lost the first practice of the weekend. The car was solid and we were working to the front with no trouble. We had some mild understeer which we were working through and out of nowhere the rear just snapped without any indication. It is one of those things that we will check out very closely to see what broke and try to figure it out."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen): "It was really disappointing to get hit in pit lane during that first pit stop. There wasn't anything I could do about it, I didn't even see him. It's a shame because the whole Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew worked really hard all weekend and I thought we were going to have a really good race car. As it cooled off, we were only going to get better and better. There's a lot more speed out of the No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car and I can't wait to take it to Toronto and get back on a street circuit."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "Overall, it was pretty frustrating night. The Service Central team did a great job in the pits. I thought that we had a really good race car yesterday and I thought we did a good job not over reacting, but the No. 38 Service Central car was extremely loose. I was hanging on a bit too much. We got unlucky with that yellow after our pit stop, which put us a lap down. We'll have to regroup and come back. We lost a few positions in the points, but the Service Central team will continue to work hard."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "I had such a difficult car that I had to battle so hard through the entire race. This is the closest thing to a nightmare. I am more tired after this race than I have ever been. The car I had this weekend was not my primary car, it was the backup, so we are all glad this weekend is over. Now we head to some races where we will have our proper equipment and we know that works because we have it in the past. We just have to keep working as a team. I want to congratulate Tony on his podium finish. Once again we showed we are a strong team and getting better with each race."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "I am super-proud of the work done by the team in one day. We knew this track was going to be a challenge and it definitely proved a challenge yesterday. We worked hard, we had long meetings last night and again this morning and Bruno (Couprie) came up with a great car. The Telemundo car really was the class of the field. Pit lane was just not our favorite neighborhood today. With this team, in my life, I have had so many positions gained in the pits but it seems the last couple of races we are lagging behind and that is not typical of Newman/Haas. We are losing positions and today we had lost a couple already before but that wasn't a big deal. But then we had some sort of an issue with the fuel not going in the car. Unfortunately it was the last pit stop where it was the one that kills you; you basically have no time to recover. And then there weren't many yellows to bring any miracles. It's just a shame we couldn't capitalize on the work done. It just proves it's not easy to win one of these things against this competition and we just need to do everything a little bit better. I would catch the top-three every time. I don't want to say we had a car that would have won the race but for sure I had a car that was battling with Marco and Dixon at different stages and we were in front of them. It's not foolish to think we had a car that could challenge for the win. It's a shame to finish 14th and lose a good amount of points that will hurt us in the championship. We have been strong in street and road courses and ovals of all kinds so I know we are going to get back. We just need to have perfect weekends again."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "We the exception of Texas the Sprott team has been in the top-10 in every race we've been running at the end. That's something to be proud of. It was another day in the Indy car education here at Iowa. We got caught up in the first pit stop when Will and Charlie got together right in front of us and we fell right down to the back. From there we were just slowly trying to pick them off, we made a couple of moves on track. And again we made some time up in the pits. It was another team effort. We were running as high as seventh there on the last stint but lost some places to guys like Helio and Ryan. It's all experience and laps in the book. I'm just happy to bring it home after another good day especially not knowing what to expect after last night's practice. Credit goes to the guys for getting the car to where we could race in the top-10. We had a few issues with fueling. We got the fuel in on the first stop but not on the second and had to come back in. We had to do a hose switch and that's why we came in under yellow one time. We had to battle a couple of things so it's good to get a top-10 and carry more momentum into Toronto."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team Go Daddy): "The balance from one end of the track to the other was completely different, so that made it difficult to have a consistent lap. The GoDaddy car was strong all weekend, so I was confident that we would be competitive tonight. I was really hoping for a better result, but we'll have to take what we got. Congrats to Marco and his crew for a great race; they deserved the win."
ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): "It was a really long race. We were really loose to start the race, luckily we had a lot of early yellows to keep working on the Dollar General car. We got it a lot better, got it to where we could make up some spots on the restarts. We had a yellow work out in our favor but then had a mishap in the pits that cost us track position. Just makes for a frustrating night. "
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "We really struggled in the first half of the race with the track being a bit 'green' from the rain. We just really struggled with it. But, once the rubber came in and it went single file, I was able to pick them off. We really needed green-flag running and we just getting yellow after yellow after yellow after yellow. The flow of the race just didn't go our way soon enough or often enough.
"It's a decent result for the DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop team; we just needed to take some points out of here and get on to Toronto. It's just great that Marco won. It's really great for the team. Dr Pepper Snapple, with Venom on the side of the car, really needed a win and they deserve it. Marco deserves it; that whole 26 team really deserves it, so I'm really happy for them and happy for the team as a whole."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "It was definitely a hard hit. The Verizon car was damaged after the incident in the pits and we just had a problem with the steering and it came around me. It's a tough result for us tonight. We'll do our best to get it back next race."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Team Ipiranga/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "We were running a good race, and the car was pretty good. We got loose, I hit the bump and the rear snapped on me."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Andretti Autosport): "It was obviously a disappointing end. I was just following Ana (Beatriz) into Turn 1 and 2, and she just got loose in the corner. I had nowhere to go and we kind of touched wheels. That set me off into the wall. It was a pretty hard hit; not much left of the right side of the car. It's unfortunate. It was a funny day anyway. At the start we had no gears and we drove right to the back. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it goes sometimes."
JAMES JAKES (No. 18 Acorn Stairlifts): "We have difficult conditions out there. It is cold and so difficult to pass. Everyone is trying to get low because that is where the grip seems to be. It is unfortunate because I think I had a quick car here. It is only the third oval I have driven on and I know we are going to have these incidents so I just need to move on to Toronto."
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Honda Indy Toronto at Streets of Toronto on July 10. It will be telecast by VERSUS at 2 p.m. (EDT). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Toronto 100 at Streets of Toronto. It will be televised live by VERSUS at Noon (EDT).