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‘Hinchtown’ Becomes Capital Of Iowa For A Day

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 8 2018

James Hinchcliffe finally shook free of his 2018 trouble on Sunday. (File photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

By Jim Pedley | ManagingEditor
RacinToday.com

The 2018 season was not going  the way driver James Hinchcliffe had hoped. Until, that is, late in Sunday’s IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway when he tracked down and passed a seemingly unbeatable Josef Newgarden and then drove off to victory.

The win was the first of the season for Hinchcliffe – who failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year – and his Honda-powered Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team.

The victory came under yellow as a small wreck laid down debris on the track with seven laps to go. Track workers were unable to get the debris cleaned up in time to re-form and re-start the field.

“This is such a good feeling after what happened in May (at Indy),” the popular Canadian driver nick-named “The Mayor of Hinchtown”, said. “We knew we had it. We knew we had it in us to come here and do it like that.”

Finishing second was Spencer Pigot of Ed Carpenter Racing in the No. 21 Chevrolet. Third was Takuma Sato in a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

The runner-up finish by Pigot was a career-best.

“Right from the get-go I knew we had a fast car,” he said. “We just kept getting stronger and stronger and before we knew it we were right up toward the front which is great.”

Rounding out the top five were Newgarden of Team Penske and Canadian Robert Wickens, who also pitted for tires during the final yellow.

“Even though you feel like you’re on an island and doing a terrible job because the car is sliding around,” Wickens said, “and just to get that message that you’re doing a great job and you’re quicker than the leaders you’re like, ‘Oh OK this is all right. I can get through this.’ In the end, it’s a great day, great day for Honda, great day for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Two cars in the top five. It should have been a double podium and there would have been nothing sweeter than to celebrate Hinch’s win than being on the podium with him.”

The first half of the race was all Newgarden. After passing pole-sitting teammate Will Power early, Newgarden began pulling away to huge leads. Twelve laps in, he began lapping the slower cars in the field. Not long after that, he began lapping the faster cars in the field.

At the end, only five cars were not lapped.

Not lapped was Hinchliffe. At about the half way point of the 300-lapper, Hinchcliffe began to move in.

The Canadian driver was mounting pressure on Newgarden until lap 213. On that lap, Hinchcliffe pushed too hard, bobbled, left the racing line and all pressure on the defending champion ended…for the time being.

Hinchcliffe who fell to third and several seconds behind the leader was in no mood to settle for a mere podium finish and began to work his way back to Newgarden’s gear box.

On Lap 255, Hinchcliffe caught and passed a stunned Newgarden.

“I was being told where it was at and I think I was more surprise at how much he picked up,” Newgarden, the defending series champion, said. “I think we had a great car today. We had a great package. But it’s a tough pill to swallow. We just didn’t have it at the end.”

Out front in clean air, Hinchtown was gone and apparently on his way to victory. But with seven laps to go, Ed Carpenter got sideway, had his front wing torn free by Sato and out came the yellow.

Newgarden and several others pitted for tires while Hinchcliffe stayed out. However, officials could not get the race restarted before the checkers dropped and the win was Hinchcliffe’s.

Next up for the series is a race through the streets of Toronto, Canada.

“It’s a shame that Robbie (Wickens) ended up taking that pit stop at the end,” Hinchcliffe said. “Man, it would have been great to have both of us up on the podium heading into the hometown race in Toronto.”

###

NEWTON, Iowa – Results Sunday of the Iowa Corn 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. (11) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 300, Running
2. (18) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 300, Running
3. (10) Takuma Sato, Honda, 300, Running
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 300, Running
5. (7) Robert Wickens, Honda, 300, Running
6. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 299, Running
7. (12) Graham Rahal, Honda, 299, Running
8. (4) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 299, Running
9. (5) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 298, Running
10. (9) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 298, Running
11. (15) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 297, Running
12. (6) Scott Dixon, Honda, 296, Running
13. (8) Ed Jones, Honda, 295, Running
14. (17) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 295, Running
15. (21) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 294, Running
16. (19) Marco Andretti, Honda, 293, Running
17. (13) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 292, Running
18. (20) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 291, Running
19. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 283, Mechanical
20. (14) Zach Veach, Honda, 279, Running
21. (16) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 99, Handling
22. (22) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 40, Mechanical

Race Statistics:
Winner’s average speed:  149.636 mph
Time of Race: 1:47:32.4666
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 2 for 17 laps
Lead changes: 4 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Power, Will 1 – 23
Newgarden, Josef 24 – 223
Sato, Takuma 224 – 226
Newgarden, Josef 227 – 255
Hinchcliffe, James 256 – 300

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings:
Dixon 411, Newgarden 378, Rossi 370, Hunter-Reay 359, Power 358, Wickens 304, Rahal 304, Hinchcliffe 280, Pagenaud 279, Bourdais 254.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 8 2018
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