Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon mastered a windy day, a hotly contested race, and a brilliant fuel strategy to win the IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 250 at Newton, Iowa on Sunday (June 22nd).
After a Victory Lane birthday kiss from new wife Suzi, Wheldon offered his thanks to TCGR and again tipped the hat to the capacity crowd of well in excess of fifty thousand enthusiastic Iowans who waved towels, wore bright green and generally cheered like a 'Touchdown Iowa' with every gripping lap.
"It was a packed house and an excellent job by everybody. I am really excited," Wheldon said. "The fuel and tire strategy was exactly right." "It looked like the crowd was having a good time. I'm glad we could do a little something to cheer their day." The Hawkeye State has, as everyone knows, just been dealt a double-whammy blow of tornado and flood from which it is still trying to recover physically, fiscally and emotionally.
Andretti Green Racing's rookie Hideki Mutoh also benefitted from running lean and playing on several late-race yellow flag periods to finish second, just ahead of teammate Marco Andretti.
"I'm really pleased with the result and with our strategy. Thank you to the team," he said in his best English. "It was a good race for our team."
"If we could have passed Hideki I think I had something for Dan," commented Andretti of his third spot on the scoring pylon. "It's tough to pass here and I just worked on making up positions and not doing anything crazy."
Marco went on to elaborate on the quality of the racing at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, calling it "the best ever I've seen in this series."
"Firestone made some changes to the tires and they were responsible for the great competition," he continued. "I came here for an aero test last fall when everyone was looking for answers to make the race better, but the Firestone people simply reconfigured their manufacturing process and it made all the difference in the world. Hats off to them for their great changes for us and the fans."
Scott Dixon was fourth, followed home by Vision's A J Foyt IV in fifth. Danica Patrick, Ryan Briscoe and another IndyCar rookie, Ryan Hunter-Reay of Rahal Letterman Racing scored sixth through eighth place; while KV Racing's Will Power and Newman Haas Lanigan's Graham Rahal drove home in the final two spots in the top-ten.
Dixon's gap on championship contender Helio Castroneves bulged to 48 points after the Team Penske driver was victimized by a cut tire in the late stages of the race. A quick change in the pits left the Brazilian star fourteenth for the day.
IndyCar rolls on to its next stop at Richmond Virginia next weekend with the SunTrust 300.