Hunter-Reay rallies to win IndyCar race at Iowa
Newton, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - Ryan Hunter-Reay benefited from a late-race pit stop for new tires to win Saturday night's Iowa Corn Indy 300 and give Andretti Autosport its fifth consecutive victory at Iowa Speedway.
Tony Kanaan from Chip Ganassi Racing dominated this race by leading 247 of 300 laps, but Hunter-Reay, who drives the No. 28 car for Andretti, led only the final two laps around this 0.785-mile oval.
Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden pitted during the last caution, brought out for an accident involving Juan Pablo Montoya with 20 laps remaining. Hunter- Reay ran in the 10th spot for the final restart with nine laps left but quickly charged through the field and then passed Kanaan for the lead with two laps to go.
"That was crazy," Hunter-Reay said. "We took the tires, and that was a big gamble. My tires were shot before that. Credit to [race engineer] Ray Gosselin and [race strategist/team owner] Michael Andretti for making that call, because I didn't think we would have enough time.
"That was fun. It was like a video game at the end. I was just shreddin' through it. The [car] was just on fire at the end."
Hunter-Reay started 13th and was never a factor in this race until the last laps.
"We had such a tough day in the pits and on the track, and things were not going right," he said. "That's why you have to keep your head in it and be ready for whatever comes."
Hunter-Reay, the 2012 IndyCar champion, scored his series-high third win of the season and the 14th of his career. His most recent victory came in the May 25 Indianapolis 500. It's the second time Hunter-Reay has won at Iowa, with his first here occurring during his championship season two years ago.
Michael Andretti's team has won a race at Iowa each year since 2010.
"We stole it today, but I'll take it any way we can get it," Andretti said.
Newgarden, who drives for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, followed Hunter-Reay through the field during the nine-lap shootout to the finish and went on to finish a career-best second. Newgarden started this race 21st in the 22-car field.
"That was the weirdest experience I've had in a race," Newgarden said. "It's almost unfair. You put on tires like that and have so much more grip than everybody. It was a great call by the team."
Kanaan attempted to win his first race since the 2013 Indy 500 as well as give Chip Ganassi Racing its first victory of the 2014 season. He wound up crossing the line in third, while his teammate, Scott Dixon, the pole sitter and defending series champion, was fourth.
"It's such a shame, because we dominated the race," Kanaan said. "I had a lot of fun, but what can I do. Seems like we've been knocking on the door. To win races, we have to run up front. We'll take third place."
Ed Carpenter finished fifth, followed by James Hinchcliffe, who won this race one year ago, and Graham Rahal.
Helio Castroneves placed eighth and moved atop the IndyCar point standings for the first time this season. Castroneves holds a nine-point lead over Will Power, his teammate at Team Penske.
"I'll take the points lead any day, anytime. It's great for us and great for Team Penske," Castroneves said.
Power made slight contact with the wall in the closing laps and fell back in the field, as he ended up finishing 14th.
After winning last weekend's race at Pocono, Montoya suffered his first DNF of the season when he crashed into the turn 4 wall. Montoya had rebounded from a one-lap deficit when he sustained a broken rear wing early in the race.
While Montoya was running in the top-10 and battling Carpenter for position, Carpenter turned down into him. The two made contact, sending Montoya up the track and into the wall.
On the following lap under caution, Montoya expressed his displeasure towards Carpenter when he waved his arms at him as Carpenter drove by.
"They all love preaching about safe racing and everything, but when you're going to pass them, they're just [expletive]," Montoya said.
Carpenter took blame for the incident.
"I feel bad," he said. "I certainly wasn't trying to take him out. My apologies."
With the win, Hunter-Reay moved to within 32 points of the lead. He had finished 16th or worse in four of the six races that followed the Indy 500, including and 18th-place result at Pocono.
07/13 00:53:07 ET