The IZOD IndyCar Series was back in action over the weekend at the Iowa Corn Indy 250. Iowa is the shortest track on the circuit, and the only one less than 1.5 miles in length. 25 drivers started the race, making it the largest field to ever take the green flag at the facility. The race featured frantic side-by-side racing and a season-high 16 lead changes that ended with Andretti Autosport driver Tony Kanaan finally earning a much-deserved checkered flag.
Let’s take a look at how the field fared, and what got them to that point.
1. Tony Kanaan – Despite leading 119 laps the past tworaces at Iowa, Kanaan had never finished at the short-track. He took over the lead with 10 laps remaining, and cruised to a 4.2 seconds margin of victory. The win marks Kanaan’s first victory since Richmond in 2008, ending a 31 race drought.
2. Helio Castroneves – Bided his time all afternoon, and when leader Dario Franchitti began to slow on Lap 200, Castroneves struck, taking over the lead and running with it for 43 laps. Tire wear prevented him from holding off Kanaan at the end.
3. E.J. Viso – Viso came out of nowhere to record his first podium finish in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Starting 19th, Viso, driving for KVM Racing, stayed out of trouble, and steadily moved up before making a strong push at the end, nearly catching Castroneves for 2nd place. Previous best finish was 11th at Texas two weeks ago.
5. Will Power – Power has been dominatant on the road courses this season, finishing fourth or better, including two victories, in the four road races. His 8th place finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was his best showing on an oval prior to Sunday. Power re-gained the points lead with the strong showing.
6. Scott Dixon – Dixon is Mr. Consistency for Chip Ganassi, and he stayed true to form on Sunday. The Kiwi had never finished outside the top 10 in this event, and despite getting squeezed in the pits by Castroneves and Kanaan, he managed another fruitful finish, leading 19 laps on his was to sixth.
7. Vitor Meira – The always reliable Meira had a pre-qualifying crash and started 13th, but methodically moved his way up with the leaders, staying on the lead lap and finishing with his third top ten in the past four races (all ovals) for team owner A.J. Foyt.
8. Ryan Hunter-Reay – Hunter Reay’s day could have been a lot better, but he was assessed a driver penalty after locking his brakes while entering his pit box, nearly hitting one of Kanaan’s crew members and making contact with a tire being changed. The young American was livid at the penalty that put him a lap down, but his crew members confirmed it was the right decision.
9. Graham Rahal – Rahal, driving for his third team this season, replaced the injured Mike Conway for Dreyer and Reinbold and moved up eight spots after starting 17th. He was the victim of bad luck when he was forced to pit on green while leading the race. Two laps later, a yellow flag came out but it was too late, Rahal had already gone a lap down.
10. Danica Patrick – Patrick was never really in contention, but she did record her third consecutive top ten finish. The Diva of Driving returns to NASCAR next weekend in the Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Speedway.
12. Alex Tagliani – Tags started 6th, but the qualifying speed didn’t translate to race day. The Canadian has been competitive all year, but has yet to record a top five finish.
13. Alex Lloyd – Lloyd ran with the leaders for part of the day, but failed to build on the momentum he’d created after a fourth place finish at Indy and an eighth place showing at Texas.
14. Raphael Matos – Matos has struggled on the oval courses, and the 14th place finish was his highest since the third race of the season. Most importantly, he kept the car out of the wall and running at the end.
15. Marco Andretti – Andretti, the son of Michael Andretti, started third and looked very strong in the early going, leading 11 of the first 44 laps. He subsequently ran into some difficulties and struggled his way to 15th place, Andretti’s worst finish since the season opening race in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
16. Mario Romancini – The rookie plodded his way around the track all afternoon, nearly causing a few wrecks when faster cars attempted to sprint around him. All in all though, it wasn’t a terrible performance, especially considering he started 23rd.
17. Bertrand Baguette – See Romancini entry.
18. Dario Franchitti – Franchitti started fifth and led a race-high 69 laps. The two-time 500 winner was cruising in the lead with just 50 laps remaining, but a faulty gear-box caused him to slow considerably, and he ended up sitting out 27 laps trying to get the problem fixed. It was Franchitti’s first trip to Iowa that he didn’t return home with a victory.
19. Takuma Sato – The former Formula One driver continues to impress Indianapolis sports fans who follow open-wheel racing with his speed and aggressive driving, but his inexperience on ovals has prevented him from turning out high finishes. Sato had worked his up to the third place, and was perhaps the fastest car on the track when he got into the marbles and slid up into the wall on Lap 177.
20. Hideki Mutoh – Mutoh has yet finish higher than 12th on the season, and his Newman/Haas didn’t handle right all day, forcing him out of the race just after the mid-way point.
21. Simona de Silvestro – It was a bad day all around for the blossoming fan favorite. De Silvestro was penalized for running over one of her crew members, severely spraining his ankle in the process, and was forced to retire because of handling issues on Lap 128. On the bright side, her car didn’t catch on fire.
22. Sarah Fisher – Another casualty of the marbles, Fisher hit the outside wall on her own volition on Lap 92.
23. Milka Duno – Proved once again that she doesn’t belong in the IZOD IndyCar Series by making a serious of poor on-track decisions before being shut down by IndyCar officials.
24. Justin Wilson – Wilson started 11th, but lost control of this car on the opening lap, taking out Mario Moraes in the process.
25. Mario Moraes – Another race, another crash for Moraes. In his defense, this one wasn’t his fault.
Updated IZOD IndyCar Points Standings
1. Will Power
2. Scott Dixon
3. Dario Franchitti
4. Helio Castroneves
5. Ryan Briscoe
6. Tony Kanaan
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay
8. Justin Wilson
9. Marco Andretti
10. Dan Wheldon
11. Danica Patrick
12. Vitor Meira