Hunter-Reay Stuns Kanaan In Iowa IndyCar Race

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, July 13 2014

Ryan Hunter-Reay and his Andretti Autosport team celebrate in Victory Lane at Iowa Speedway. (Photo courtesy of the Verizon IndyCar Series)

If somebody was going to beat Tony Kanaan in Saturday night’s Iowa Corn Indy 300, he was going to have to do something bold in the late going. That somebody turned out to be Michael Andretti.

Andretti, the owner of Andretti Autosport, ordered driver Ryan Hunter-Reay – who was running 10th – into the pits during  a late-race caution to take on four fresh tires and the move was not just bold; it was a winner.

On the new tires, Hunter-Reay quickly shot toward the front of the field after the Lap 292 restart. He passed Kanaan’s Chip Ganassi Racing car, which had led 247 of the race’s 300 laps, with two laps to go and then drove to victory by 0.5814 of a second over Josef Newgarden in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing entry.

Newgarden, who started 21st and was running 11th at the green flag for the final restart, also pitted for tires on Lap 284 and overtook Kanaan on the final lap to tie his career-best finish.

It was the fifth consecutive IndyCar Series victory at Iowa Speedway for Andretti Autosport, which has won six of the eight races on the 0.894-mile, variably-banked oval. Hunter-Reay also won at Iowa Speedway in 2012.

“That was crazy,” Hunter-Reay said. “We took the tires as a big gamble and credit to (race engineer) Ray Gosselin and (race strategist/team owner) Michael Andretti for making that call. That was fun. It was like a video game at the end. We had a tough day, but you have to keep your head in it in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

Hunter-Reay had recorded only two top-10 finishes in the six races since winning in Indianapolis on May 25. He reclaimed third place in the championship standings – 32 points behind new front-runner Helio Castroneves of Team Penske, who finished eighth.

“We stole it today but I’ll take it any way we can get it,” Andretti said. “We’ve lost many that way. It was a day we probably weren’t supposed to win, but, like I said, we’ll take it any way we can get it.”

It was Hunter-Reay’s third victory of the season, and though Kanaan tied his season high he was disappointed not to give Target Chip Ganassi Racing its first victory of the season. There have been eight different winners, representing six teams, in the 12 races.

“It’s such a shame because we dominated the race,” said Kanaan, who won the race in 2010 and finished on the podium each of the past five years at Iowa Speedway. “To win races we have to run up front, so we’ll take the third place and go to Toronto. I don’t think I left anything out there today.”

Teammate Scott Dixon, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion who claimed his first Verizon P1 Award of the season on July 11, finished fourth and Ed Carpenter advanced five positions relative to his starting spot for fifth place in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka car.

“That was the weirdest experience I’ve had in a race,” Newgarden said. “It’s almost unfair. You put on tires like that and you just have so much more grip than everybody. It was a great call. And I knew it was going to be an interesting race because Graham (Rahal) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay) had done it in front of me and I thought, ‘If this is going to play out, it will be between us.’ And Ryan got a good jump and I got a good jump with it and we kept carving up to the top and I knew the laps were clicking down and with about five to go, I realized, ‘OK, this is going to get really good.’ Just not enough time to get Ryan.

“I think it’s really cool finishing on the podium. Obviously it’s a great job for our whole team, especially after qualifying, we made a bit of an error there. We just did an amazing job tonight. Our team was solid. We had such good pit stops, really good strategy and kept our head in the game the entire way. We didn’t have the best balance all race long, but there were parts when we were really fast. We just kept with it and at the end there, we made it when it counted.”

Results Saturday of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (13) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 300, Running

2. (21) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 300, Running

3. (2) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 300, Running

4. (1) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 300, Running

5. (10) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 300, Running

6. (14) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 300, Running

7. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 300, Running

8. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 300, Running

9. (4) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 300, Running

10. (7) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 300, Running

11. (11) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 300, Running

12. (5) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 300, Running

13. (18) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 300, Running

14. (9) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 300, Running

15. (20) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 296, Running

16. (19) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 280, Contact

17. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 258, Mechanical

18. (8) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 229, Mechanical

19. (6) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 130, Mechanical

20. (22) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 78, Driver Illness

21. (12) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 47, Contact

22. (16) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 47, Contact

Race Statistics:

Winners average speed: 131.923

Time of Race: 02:01:58.8160

Margin of victory: 0.5814

Cautions: 7 for 68 laps

Lead changes: 6 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders:

Dixon 1

Kanaan 2 – 42

Castroneves 43 – 76

Kanaan 77 – 247

Dixon 248 – 263

Kanaan 264 – 297

Hunter-Reay 299 – 300

Point Standings: Castroneves 471, Power 462, Hunter-Reay 439, Pagenaud 421, Montoya 405, Munoz 358, Andretti 337, Dixon 331, Briscoe 307, Kanaan 305.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, July 13 2014
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