James Hinchcliffe has always been a good road racer but Sunday afternoon he looked a little like Rick Mears.
Starting on the outside of the front row in his GO DADDY Dallara/Chevy, Hinch beat pole-sitter Will Power into the first turn, led 226 of 250 laps and won his initial oval-track race in impressivefashion.
“I don’t think I’ve ever led that many laps in any kind of race,” exclaimed the 27-year-old Canadian after scoring a series high third victory for Andretti Autosport.
“I just can’t say enough about this team. I didn’t have a winning car yesterday in the heat races so my engineer Craig (Hampson) threw the book at it and it was incredible all day. That’s as hard as I’ve ever driven because of all the traffic and I saw Ryan was catching me at the end.”
Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay had the drive of the day as he started 12th, fell back to 21st place after knocking his front wing loose trying to pass Graham Rahal. The 2012 IZOD IndyCar champion put on a clinic passing cars and threading his to through traffic to collect a very valuable second place.
“Saturday hurt us big time because Helio (Castroneves) won the pole and we had a miserable day and lost nine points to him,” said Hunter-Reay. “But this is a championship team and they showed it again today.
“I was closing on James at the end and got slowed up by a couple cars four laps down but that’s part of shock track racing. It was a good day and now we’re only nine points behind Helio.”
It was a typical, action-filled afternoon on the racy 7/8ths-mile Iowa Speedway but it was full of good, hard racing, no wall contacts and only one lazy spin by Alex Tagliani.
While Hinch’s pass of Power for the lead was the only one involving the stop spot, there were some excellent duels throughout the 24-car field.
Tony Kanaan came through with a late charge from sixth to take third, while Ed Carpenter passed Rahal on the last lap for fourth place. But Rahal put on a show, storming from 10th to second on the high groove and being the second-fastest car most of the day until losing the handling in the closing laps.
Castroneves, who claimed the pole position in Saturday’s 50-lap qualifying race, ran as high as third early but faded to eighth.
INDYCAR STILL WANTS IOWA
The annual stop at Iowa Speedway has become one of the best attended and best races to watch on the IZOD IndyCar schedule and the rumor it’s not coming back was dispelled Sunday.
“There is no chance we won’t be back here,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Company. “It’s one of the cornerstones on our schedule and we’re hoping we can work out a multi-year deal.
“We’re looking at how to make the strongest schedule and there could be a different date here or some shifts in certain races but we’ll definitely be racing here.”
Reacting to a statement by a driver after Saturday’s qualifying that IndyCar likely wouldn’t be returning to Newton, Ia., Iowa Speedway president Stan Clement gathered some media for an impromptu press conference. “I wanted to clear this thing up right now and let everybody know the truth,” he said. “This has been a good event for us and we intend to keep it going for a long time.”
Sunday morning’s downpour didn’t help the crowd, which appeared to be the lowest since IndyCar began coming here in 2006. It was estimated at 22,000.
Results Sunday of the Iowa Corn Indy 250 IZOD 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. (2) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
2. (12) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
3. (5) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
4. (4) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
5. (6) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 250, Running
6. (8) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 250, Running
7. (7) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
8. (11) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
9. (3) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
10. (16) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
11. (10) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 249, Running
12. (14) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 249, Running
13. (13) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 248, Running
14. (19) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 248, Running
15. (22) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 248, Running
16. (15) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 247, Running
17. (1) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 247, Running
18. (24) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 247, Running
19. (18) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 247, Running
20. (21) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 246, Running
21. (20) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 243, Running
22. (23) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 183, Mechanical
23. (17) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 162, Mechanical
24. (9) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 139, Contact
Winners average speed: 148.559
Time of Race: 01:30:16.0266
Margin of victory: 1.5009
Cautions: 3 for 29 laps
Lead changes: 7 among 4 drivers
Hinchcliffe 1 – 118
Wilson 119 – 120
Hinchcliffe 121 – 159
Hinchcliffe 161 – 195
Carpenter 196 – 213
Wilson 214 – 16
Hinchcliffe 217 – 250
Point Standings: Castroneves 332, Hunter-Reay 323, Andretti 277, Hinchcliffe 266, Kanaan 253. Pagenaud 241, Dixon 240, Sato 233, Wilson 227, Power 209