The Verizon IndyCar Series was back on the ovals, when Iowa Corn 300 was the 11th round of the year.
Will Power had grabbed Pole Position ahead of Josef Newgarden while Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay was the only guy to squeeze in front of the last Team Penske car with Simon Pagenaud. Alexander Rossi started P5, right ahead of Championship leader Scott Dixon, and the sensational rookie of the year, Robert Wickens. Wickens was once again faster than his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate James Hinchcliffe, with Hinch only starting P11.
The start went well at the front of the field, with no changes at the opening lap. Rossi dived past Pagenaud on the second lap, but Pagenaud kept hanging in there and went past again.
Wickens quickly dropped down through the field, while Hinchcliffe was going forward. Hinchcliffe was the driver with the most overtakings during the first 50 laps, gaining spots since his starting position. But Hinch in P2 wasn’t able to close the gap on Newgarden initially. Spencer Pigot and Zachary Claman de Melo were two others with plenty of speed, and had jumped each positions forward each.
Matheus Leist was the first retirement of the day, when electrical gremlins plagued his car. The Brazilian had an accident during practice, and it was most likely something to do with that, for the A. J. Foyt Enterprises driver.
After 70 of the 300 laps everybody but the top 6 was at least one lap down on the short 0,894 mile oval.
People started pitting after about 75 laps. The drivers on new tires were visibly faster than the ones on the older tires.
Zach Veach had another hot moment on pitlane, when the car burst into flames during refueling, just like at the Indy 500 in May. The mechanics quickly threw some water onto the car, and then Veach left the pits, blowing the fire out by the wind.
Alexander Rossi stalled at his pitstop, losing precious seconds.
Sebastien Bourdais was the best driver on the tires, making them last 96 laps before he pitted for the first time.
Power didn’t have the same speed during the race, as he had in the qualifying. After 120 laps he was overtaken by a lap, by his teammate Newgarden!
Spencer Pigot had driven his Ed Carpenter Racing car into third position.
Scott Dixon had a bad day at the office, and was two laps down about halfway through the race, all the way back in 11th.
The first yellow of the day came on Lap 139, when Zach Veach lost the rear of his car all by himself in Turn 3. He brushed the wall lightly, but was enough to give a bit of damage to the car, and bring out the Safety Car. Veach was able to drive the car back to the pits himself, where the mechanics were trying to fit it.
Pigot started attacking Hinchcliffe at the restart, and even overtook the Canadian. While those two were battling, Newgarden was able to pull away again. Hinch did get things under control, and made it back into P2, and started chasing down Newgarden.
Gabby Chaves and Harding Racing chose to park the car, since the handling of it was so bad, that they thought it was better just to pull out rather than crash it.
The race hit a bit of a static period, where the drivers just appeared to check off the laps, while saving the tires.
The majority of the field pitted with 75 laps to go, for their final tankful of fuel and 4 new tires.
Ryan Hunter-Reay had issues with his radio, so he was able to hear the team in the pits, but he wasn’t able to talk with them. That cost him quite a few positions in the race, since they couldn’t fine tune the car and discuss possible changes.
The lead changed with 45 laps to go, when James Hinchcliffe made it past the defending Champion, Josef Newgarden, who had troubles getting through some lapped cars.
Spencer Pigot lost a bit of speed towards the end of the race, and was overtaken by Robert Wickens in the fight for third.
Ryan Hunter-Reay pitted and retired with 12 laps to go, since the car was no longer driving well, and the team thought it was too dangerous to continue.
The second caution of the day came out with 7 laps to go, when Ed Carpenter lost the rear of his car in Turn 1. His front wing was clipped by Takuma Sato, so while Carpenter didn’t hit the wall, a part of his wing was on the track, after being knocked off.
Newgarden, Wickens, Pagenaud and Graham Rahal chose to pit with 3 laps to go, during the FCY, to have fresh tires for a possible restart.
But that didn’t happen, so James Hinchcliffe was able to roll slowly across the line ahead of Spencer Pigot and Takuma Sato. Josef Newgarden lost two positions due to his pitstop gamble.
Scott Dixon finished P12, but kept the lead in the Championship, while Josef Newgarden moved into second ahead of Alexander Rossi, who finished the race P9. Ryan Hunter-Reay is currently P4, right ahead of Will Power.
Verizon IndyCar Series is back on the track in just one week’s time, when they race on the streets of Toronto.