By: Allan Brewer, IndyCar Correspondent
- Marco Andretti's gets 1st oval win
- Kanaan & Dixon take 2nd & 3rd
- Power crashes, Franchitti on top in points
Andretti beats Kanaan in 180-mph game of tag
Contrails, fireworks, and a cheering sellout crowd of 30,000 corn-fed fans all set the stage for a thrilling IndyCar victory for Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti on Iowa Speedway's 7/8 mile tilt-a-whirl track at Saturday night's Iowa Corn Indy 250 race in Newton, Iowa. KV Racing Lotus’ Tony Kanaan finished second, and Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon finished third.
“I really needed this win, “said Andretti. “We got the handling right and it was good fun racing against TK (Tony Kanaan).” It was Andretti’s first triumph on an oval track, and his second career IndyCar series victory; his first coming on the road course at Sonoma, California in 2006.
Andretti bested former teammate Kanaan at the front of a 180-mph game of tag that was waged for nearly 50 laps to close out the race. Kanaan and Andretti swapped spots at the point multiple times until the final laps when Andretti drew out to a modest lead to take the checkered flag.
“Marco had a great race. It was a fun race,” said Kanaan, now only half a season removed from Andretti Autosport. “How can you not love this place? It’s the perfect race here,” he continued of Iowa Speedway, which has become a driver favorite in the IndyCar series repertoire.
“We had a great night for points with some close racing,” said Dixon as Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti assumed the championship points lead over rival Will Power of Team Penske. “The car was really loose, especially underneath another car.” Despite the handling problems, Dixon drove from a last row grid position to a podium finish, moving up a stunning 20 spots in the order.
Panther Racing’s JR Hildebrand finished fourth, and Franchitti finished fifth after leading for 172 of the race’s 250 laps.
“We had a problem on the last pit stop with the wheel,” said Franchitti, who moved into a solid 20-point lead ahead of Power in the race for the IndyCar series season championship. ”I almost hit the wall, there was so much oversteer. That was the story of our night.”
Team Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves finished in sixth and seventh place. Penske teammate Will Power suffered a mild concussion after crashing out of the race. Power was not immediately cleared to resume driving which means his status will be assessed ahead of the next IndyCar series race at Toronto, Canada on July 10.
The first yellow of the evening flew on Lap 24 when Dale Coyne Racing’s James Jakes went into the wall. In the subsequent mass refueling of the field Power exited his pit box into a pitting Charlie Kimball, breaking the front wing on the No. 12 machine and ripping the left side pod of Kimball’s No. 83 Ganassi Racing racecar. There followed a stop to replace the nosecone of the No. 12, and a third stop to adjust the wing, which further increased the gap behind the streaking Franchitti.
“My pit team sent me out and he (Kimball) came across my bow, and I hit him,” said a dejected Power afterwards. “It broke the front wing and knocked the steering out of alignment. I probably shouldn’t have been out there in a broken car but we were trying to collect some points.”
Andretti Autosport’s Mike Conway appeared to move up the track in Turn 2 and into Dreyer and Reinbold’s Ana Beatriz, forcing both cars into the wall on Lap 45. Vitor Meira suffered collateral damage in the No. 14 Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda in the fracas.
Continuing misfortune in the form of a deflating tire brought Castroneves into the pits under green on Lap 78, pushing the three-time Indy 500 winner far back into the field. Castroneves was running in second place at the time.
... we were trying to collect some points.
Power’s night came to an early end when the No. 12 car spun exiting Turn 2 and backed into the wall with a hard smack directly on the gearbox on Lap 90.
Yellow came again on Lap 114 as Conquest Racing’s Sebastian Saavedra tagged the wall in Turn 2 with possible failure of the right rear suspension.
At the halfway mark the running order, under yellow, stood Franchitti, Sato, Kanaan, Andretti and Dixon. Andretti moved in half the distance to fourth from seventeenth spot on the grid, and Dixon an even more remarkable 18 spots to fifth spot from his last row starting position.
Andretti began to turn up the heat on Franchitti, moving into the lead, then relinquishing it to the Scot. Behind the leaders Sato, Kanaan and Hildebrand continued to race side-by-side until the race’s pole-sitter Sato slammed into the Turn 2 wall on Lap 185. On the stop that followed Andretti nipped Franchitti at pit-lane’s end to retake the lead.
A restart on Lap 200 put the order Andretti, Kanaan, Franchitti, Briscoe and Newman Haas Racing’s Oriol Servia. Within two laps Kanaan went beneath Andretti to take the point, and set up an extended duel back and forth for the lead between them. Behind them Dixon moved past Franchitti, whose car appeared to be going away under him, to assume third place.
With 25 laps to go the running order stood Kanaan, Andretti, Dixon, Franchitti and Briscoe. Andretti then drew out to a 0.2 second gap on Kanaan and with ten laps remaining the first five in order stood Andretti, Kanaan, Dixon, Franchitti and Hildebrand.
Simona de Silvestro of HVM Racing did not participate in track activities at Iowa this weekend. IndyCar medical authorities have not cleared her to drive for concerns she may still be suffering symptoms of a head injury incurred at last weekend's Milwaukee 225.