Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay has become a back to back winner at an eventful Iowa Corn 300 and now has more wins than any other driver at the series’ shortest oval track.
For the first time since the 2006 Indianapolis 500, American drivers have swept the top four places in a Verizon IndyCar Series race.
Michael Andretti, who followed winner Sam Hornish Jr. and Marco Andretti across the finish line in that thriller, was the winning team owner July 18 in the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway.
Reminiscent of the 10-lap duel last July between Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden at Iowa Speedway, once again they engaged in an exciting battle on the 0.875-mile oval.
Hunter-Reay prevailed by 0.504 of a second to become the ninth different winner in thirteen IndyCar Series races this season. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Sage Karam finished a career-best third for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Karam came under fire from a few drivers over his tactics in the closing laps of a race that was punctuated by a number of crashes. This included a furious CFH Racing co-owner/oval racer Ed Carpenter, who gave the Ganassi rookie a spray in a heated confrontation shortly after the finish of the 300-lap race.
Graham Rahal finished fourth for his third consecutive top-five finish, and Carlos Muñoz, who won at Detroit in May, rounded out the top five finishers.
It was the sixth consecutive victory for Andretti Autosport powerhouse at Iowa Speedway, with Hunter-Reay’s feat mirroring his win over Newgarden by 0.581 seconds in last year’s event.
“The No. 28 DHL Honda was on rails at the end,” said a visibly relieved Hunter-Reay, who had until this point notched up a single top-five finish all season.
“This one we really had to work for. After a tough season, this one is really nice.”
Following a Lap 278 restart after AJ Foyt’s number 14 entry Takuma Sato made contact with the wall at Turn 2 thirteen laps earlier with a suspension failure, Hunter-Reay held off multiple challenges by Newgarden in his #67 Wichita State University sponsored CFH Racing Chevrolet entry.
“To finish second was bittersweet,” said Newgarden, who qualified seventh and led the most laps with 111. “We had a great race car. I think we had a car to win. But it’s disappointing I’m really sad we lost to be honest. It’s just a shootout scenario we didn’t have what we needed at the end, but we still had a great effort all weekend.”
Juan Pablo Montoya’s championship points lead took a dent after he his notched up his first DNF of the season. His Team Penske Chevrolet made right-side contact with the Turn 2 barrier jut ten laps into the race. Iowa was the site of the former CART champion’s last retirement, ending an 18-race run of perfect reliability.
“We had a good car. It was a little loose the first couple of laps, so I was just really taking it easy, biding my time,” said Montoya, who qualified third. “Something broke.”
A blessing for Montoya was that his chief championship rivals, Scott Dixon and Hélio Castroneves, didn’t do major damage to his points’ lead.
Dixon was hit with a mechanical issue on his #9 Chip Ganassi Racing entry in the final third of the race, finishing last of the eighteen runners to see the chequered flag. Castroneves finished in eleventh place in the sister Penske, one spot behind teammate and reigning champion Will Power.
Rahal’s fourth-placed finish moves him ahead of Dixon and Castroneves into second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings, 42 points adrift of Montoya as the field heads to the next round, the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on August 2.
|2015 IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 – Final Classification (300 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||300||2:03:50.3315|
|2.||Josef Newgarden||CFH Racing||300||+ 0.5046|
|3.||Sage Karam||Chip Ganassi Racing||300||+ 2.8451|
|4.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||300||+ 4.6579|
|5.||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti Autosport||300||+ 6.8921|
|6.||Ed Carpenter||CFH Racing||300||+ 7.4884|
|7.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||300||+ 8.4296|
|8.||Ryan Briscoe||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||300||+ 10.5332|
|9.||Sébastien Bourdais||KV Racing Technology||300||+ 11.8013|
|10.||Will Power||Team Penske||300||+ 12.1472|
|11.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||300||+ 13.2151|
|12.||Tristan Vautier||Dale Coyne Racing||299||+ 1 lap|
|13.||Jack Hawksworth||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||299||+ 1 lap|
|14.||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||299||+ 1 lap|
|15.||James Jakes||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||299||+ 1 lap|
|16.||Gabby Chaves||Bryan Herta Autosport||299||+ 1 lap|
|17.||Justin Wilson||Andretti Autosport||297||+ 3 laps|
|18.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||263||+ 37 laps|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Takuma Sato||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||260||Contact|
|DNF.||Stefano Coletti||KV Racing Technology||191||Contact|
|DNF.||Tony Kanaan||Chip Ganassi Racing||189||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||170||Contact|
|DNF.||Pippa Mann||Dale Coyne Racing||136||Handling|
|DNF.||Juan Pablo Montoya||Team Penske||9||Contact|
Image via IndyCar Series
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