NEWTON, Iowa (July 18, 2015) – American drivers swept the top four positions – and six of the top seven – as Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay captured his first victory of the Verizon IndyCar Series season Saturday night in the Iowa Corn 300. Hunter-Reay prevailed by .5046 of a second over Josef Newgarden to become the ninth different winner in 13 Verizon IndyCar Series races this season.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Sage Karam finished a career-high third. Graham Rahal placed fourth for his third consecutive top-five finish, and Carlos Munoz, who won at Detroit in May, was fifth.
The last time Americans swept the podium in a Verizon IndyCar Series event was the 2006 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, when Michael Andretti followed winner Sam Hornish Jr. and Marco Andretti across the finish line in one of the most historic finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It was the sixth consecutive victory for Andretti Autosport at Iowa Speedway and the third victory at the track for Hunter-Reay, who was also battling Newgarden for the win one year ago, when he beat the CFH Racing driver to the finish line by .5814 of a second.
“The No. 28 DHL Honda was on rails at the end,” said Hunter-Reay, who had only one top-five finish this season entering the race. “This one we really had to work for. After a tough season, this one is really nice.”
Following a Lap 278 restart, Hunter-Reay held off multiple challenges by Newgarden in the No. 67 Wichita State University/CFH Racing Chevrolet.
“To finish second was bittersweet,” said Newgarden, who qualified seventh. “We had a winning car, but it’s a credit to the team to finish second.”
Juan Pablo Montoya’s championship points lead appeared to take a hit when the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet made right-side contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier on Lap 10 of the 300-lap race. It was his first DNF of the season and the first in 18 races since the 2014 race at Iowa Speedway.
“We had a good car. It was a little loose the first couple of laps, so I was just really taking it easy, biding my time,” said Montoya, who qualified third. “Something broke.”
A mechanical issue in the final third of the race plagued the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Scott Dixon, who entered the race 54 points behind, and an 11th-place finish by pole sitter Helio Castroneves, allowed Montoya to enter the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Aug. 2 relatively unscathed.
Rahal moved to second in the standings — 42 points behind — while Dixon, who finished 18th, is 48 points back and Castroneves is 54 points out of the lead.
Iowa ‘Bachelor’s’ Whirlwind Includes Fast Laps at Iowa Speedway
It’s been a whirlwind year for Chris Soules. The Iowa native was second runner-up on the ABC dating show “The Bachelorette” in 2014; was “The Bachelor” earlier this year and engaged briefly to the woman he selected; and finished fifth in this spring’s “Dancing with the Stars” competition.
That whirlwind was nothing like what the 33-year-old farmer experienced this morning when he took a ride around Iowa Speedway in the INDYCAR Experience two-seater with Verizon IndyCar Series driver Conor Daly at the wheel.
“That was awesome!” Soules exclaimed after stepping out of the race car. “The G forces in those turns is intense. I’m hooked, I want to do it again. Maybe I’ve found a new hobby.”
Soules was invited to today’s Iowa Corn 300 at the 0.894-mile oval by Honda officials and was told he could receive a ride around the track from a driver. “But they never said I was going to go full speed and to have a legit race car and driver flying me around this thing,” he said.
“The way this track is banked, when you get down on it, it’s crazy,” Soules said. “You don’t really have that perspective from the stands or from TV how steep that is. It’s just intense.
“I can see why you have to be an athlete and in good shape because of the toll that takes on your body going around the track like that,” he added. “To do that 300 times (in the race), that’s a long time to be out there. Two hours straight, that’s unbelievable. I have a whole new level of respect for these guys.”
Former ‘500’ Winner Rice Is Carpenter’s Eyes in the Sky
Buddy Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner, is serving as a spotter at Iowa Speedway for CFH Racing co-owner/driver Ed Carpenter in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. Rice, who has spotted from atop the grandstands in the past for James Davison and JR Hildebrand, performed the same duties for Carpenter in the July 12 ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at The Milwaukee Mile.
A race car driver helping a driver on the track. Rice, who has competed on both ovals, sees benefits of such an arrangement.
“I can see what’s coming and what’s going on because I’ve been there and I know what they’re feeling,” Rice said. “When the driver is getting excited in the seat, I can tell them if everybody else is having the same problem or what (racing) line seems to work better or what people are falling off nearing the pit window. I can give them information that I know I would like to hear at the moment to help them out.
“A lot of people knew I was at Indy to help out Hildebrand,” Rice added, “but they didn’t know it was me on the radio because, when I drive, my voice is totally different, which is really mellow. Same way when I’m spotting, which is how you have to be.”
Chilton Dedicates Indy Lights Win to Friend Bianchi
Thoughts of Formula One teammate Jules Bianchi drowned out voices on Max Chilton’s radio over the final five laps as he drove to victory in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race at Iowa Speedway.
Chilton competed against, learned from and quickly became friends with Bianchi during two years with the Marussia F1 team. Chilton dedicated his first victory in Indy Lights and his first since 2012 in Singapore in the GP2 Series, to Bianchi, who died July 17. He was 25. Bianchi was in a coma for nine months after a crash in an F1 race in Japan.
“I knew if he was here, he would be going for that race win so I wanted to do that for him,” said Chilton, who won the 100-lap race from the pole in the No. 14 Carlin entry. “I’ve learned a lot from him. He was a driver destined to be a world champion. … It’s been difficult and I could never imagine this was going to happen. I dedicate this one to him.”
Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Stefano Coletti, also a friend of Bianchi, placed a decal on the front of the No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet that read, “Godspeed Jules Bianchi RIP.”
Weiron Tan (Andretti Autosport) led wire-to-wire to win his fourth Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires race of the season. … Austin Cindric, 16-year-old son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric, started and finished fourth in his ARCA Racing Series stock car debut late July 17 at Iowa Speedway. Cindric, who led 30 of the 150 laps, drove car No. 99 in honor of the late Greg Moore, a five-time Indy car race winner who died in a 1999 crash at Auto Club Speedway.
IOWA CORN 300 QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Verizon Chevy was really good from the middle to the end of stints, but we struggled to get going there on restarts and so we lost some track positions and we weren’t able to make that back up. So we need to have a better car when the field is bunched up and the traffic is heavy. But we’ll take this and just focus on better results in Mid-Ohio.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Hitachi Chevy was unbelievable the first half of the race until we had a huge moment on the exit of Turn 3 while leading the race. I’m still not sure how I was able to catch it. After that it was all downhill because we adjusted the car for the oversteer, but then it really cooled off and we developed an understeer. Then we lost a lot of positions on a restart after I felt we got chopped off numerous times. We were able to minimize the damage a bit over the last few laps but, man, I really thought we had a Chevy that could win the race.”
STEFANO COLETTI (No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “I thought it was going to be a good race. I had my best qualifying performance on an oval and the car felt good. Unfortunately at the beginning of the race I got hit by Charlie Kimball and then had to pit for a new rear wing and lost five laps. I could then only gain a lap back when there was a yellow, so managed to get from five to three. I was pushing really hard to pass some cars and then lost it in Turn 2 and hit the wall.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda): “I think we should be pretty happy with the race we ran today. Man, we fought hard. All weekend, we were struggling with the balance in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car since first practice and I think we pretty much threw the kitchen sink at it for the race today. We made improvements all weekend and I was really proud of the guys. No one ever gave up. I think a top 10, P8, was a great result. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really make the most of new tires today so I think we could’ve been a bit better, but on new tires we were just hitting the ground too much. We had a very consistent car, very racy, and had a lot of fun out there. It was really physical tonight and I’m proud of the team for bringing home a P8 for me.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It was a very difficult night for the No. 7 SPM MediaTech Honda. The first stint was pretty good. We managed to get pretty close to the top 10 but just struggled a bit with the balance all night. It’s a shame. It was a long night but we’ll take the weekend off now and regroup before we go to Mid-Ohio.”
SAGE KARAM (No. 8 COMFORT REVOLUTION / Big Machine Records Chevrolet): “I am so excited to get my first podium finish in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The team did a great job tonight all around. I think we really put together an entire race, and that meant from start to finish we executed. It’s such a great feeling and running up front is our goal. I’ve felt this momentum was starting to build in Fontana and Milwaukee and am glad we were able to finish things off here at Iowa with a strong showing for the COMFORT REVOLUTION/Big Machine Records car.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “I think we had a really fast car this weekend. The Target car was good and in the top three, and I thought it was a contender all night. We had to overcome some challenges during the race but we stuck with it. We made a ton of changes and were really trying to just keep up with the track all night. I thought we were getting a break with (Juan Pablo Montoya) going out early, and then we had a weird problem with the right rear axle. The Target team did a great job getting us back out and that’s all you can ask for in that situation.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Fusion Chevrolet): “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be for us here today. The Fusion car was really awesome and we had a really fast car all weekend. When mechanical problems happen, there’s not much you can do. I’ve had a ton of these races go my way, and a ton that haven’t gone my way. There’s just not much you can do in that situation.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Mistic E-Cigs – KVSH Chevrolet): “It was a really good effort from the Mistic E-Cigs Chevy team. We did everything we could hope for. I had a massive vibration on the second-to-last stint, so we came in on the early side of the window. I ran really hard laps on that set of tires to try and make up some ground, and we did getting up to sixth, but that last yellow really hurt us. Unfortunately, it gave some guys the opportunity to get a new set of tires and we couldn’t because we had used up so many tires early in the race. Then the restart was such a mess. We got bottled up by guys that were a lap down who were fighting like they were trying to win the race. That allowed all the guys that were at the back of the pack on new tires to come through. You have to feel good about going from 24th to ninth and the fact that over the last two races we have really improved the car and our performance on ovals, but to get up to sixth and end up ninth, that is always tough. But with the debacle of qualifying, I guess we have to be pretty happy with tonight’s result.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Tough night. To predict the conditions is almost impossible because we never had a night session in practice. We started in warm conditions in the evening and finished off in cool conditions so from that point of view it’s difficult to determine the amount of downforce. We thought we optimized the car but I think we needed a little more downforce to be fast in this session. It was an exciting race, lots of side by side racing. For a couple stints we couldn’t manage tire pressure well. It was very sensitive which was surprising. Some stints I struggled but on the very last stint, the car came together and we were really traveling fast and making good time, but unfortunately there was a right front suspension failure. There was no warning, the car bottomed out and I was just a passenger. It was a shame.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “That was my hardest race ever. First we had the right rear go down and then the car just wouldn’t shift. You don’t know how tough that is around here when you’re in traffic and you need to go down to fifth, fourth gear at times and I couldn’t do anything. It was a killer for me. We were quicker than (Ryan) Hunter-Reay, that’s for sure, which is frustrating. When the car was working right, we passed all those guys but dude I’m spent. I’m ready for a good beer and a nice sleep. The car was good, very competitive, very consistent tonight over the long run and that’s what helped me. On my starts and restarts I tried to be a little aggressive and go high (on track) there and it worked out for me. Nights like tonight are what build character, and what builds champions so I hope we can get there. It speaks volumes for this team that we are second in the points. We can win Honda a championship. We’ve got three more races to go and are going to two tracks I think we can be really strong at, and Pocono. A day like today when the car wouldn’t shift and we were down and out, but we were able to fight back shows what this team is made of. I think that is something I have learned in my time in this series. Hopefully we can keep it going three more. I’m so proud of this Mi-Jack Steak ‘n Shake team to be second in the standings. We’re just going to keep our heads down and go forward.”
PIPPA MANN (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “That was another really tough race for us in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing car. It was much shorter than we wanted it to be. We picked up a bit of push in qualifying today, but I didn’t think much of it. Unfortunately, in the race, the problem just manifested itself in a pretty big way. In addition to that, we had a steering weight issue where the wheel was literally pushing through my arms in the corners. Once we got to the second stop and the leaders were coming again, I made the decision to park the car before I made a mistake that crashed our car and maybe ruined another driver’s day. It is a really tough way for things to go, but I’m super proud of the crew for all of their hard work these past two weeks.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “That was a solid race with no mistakes and solid execution by everyone. We were missing what we needed to fight at the front but if everything had gone perfectly, we could have been in the top 10. I had some good battles out there with Power. It was a lot of fun battling with him. Unfortunately, the last time he passed me he took the air away and I lost a lot of track positions. This is what put us a lap down but it was a lot of fun fighting for that top 10. Overall, it was good to have a solid race to build on.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet): “We’re not quite sure what happened with the Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet. We practiced really well yesterday. At the end of the race we had the exact same car that we had in practice. But at the beginning it was just really, really loose and I could barely hang on to it. It was all about survival at that point. We made some adjustments on the first pit stop but it was still too loose. By that point we were really behind in having any chance at winning the race. The Penske Truck Rental Chevy was good on the last two stints. That is the positive that we can take away from tonight and go to Mid-Ohio.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda): “From where I was at, it looked like whatever car it was at the bottom, kind of checked up and shot up a lane or two, kind of caught everyone by surprise. I just got careless, got two wheels in the dirt and white-walled it. It was frustrating – we were staying on the lead lap but at the back of the pack, it was just a bit of a handful after I white-walled it. It was a case of not throwing it in the wall and trying to be smart. Towards the end, we came in to just try and test some things out – we knew we weren’t going to win and wanted to learn a few things, so that’s what we did. It was a long, frustrating night. You’re just hanging on, trying to get the car to turn… I think we made a good stop, got up to the front early on and then maybe we were a bit optimistic with our downforce level. We were sliding around a lot. It got very difficult late in the tire stint, that’s where we kind of slid back. It’s kind of what we expected and we wanted to try that, but it made for a long night.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda): “It’s a shame I couldn’t hold the third place – I did everything I could with what we had. I was hopeful for that third place after a tough weekend, but fifth, I’ll take it. Finally an OK result after the last few bad races. Now I’m focusing on Mid-Ohio. I really love that track, and hope to keep the momentum going. Finally a good result in Iowa, so it’s a good day.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “I really struggled with the car today. We were just getting caught in really bad circumstances on the restarts, and we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot of times tonight. Congratulations to Ryan (Hunter-Reay). It’s good to keep the Andretti (win) streak going.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “It felt like we had something (tonight). It certainly was going to be tough to beat them today, but this No. 28 DHL Honda was on rails at the end and I was driving the snot out of it. It was loose and I just kept my foot to the floor. It was barely having to lift at the end. It was a lot of work in the cockpit. This one we really had to work for, this was a hard one. After such a tough season, it was great to be back in Victory Lane. In the beginning of the race the car was really loose and I had a hard time with it. This is just amazing. … We’re having a tough year but we got into Victory Lane in one of the most competitive seasons. It was super tough to get this thing today.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Well it was a fun race. We had a lot of battling out there. In the beginning of the race we got hosed because we should have taken the pass around and didn’t. Another caution came out and we managed to get our lap back then. We had a pretty strong race going and then we were hovering around the top 10. Then at the end we had to go to the tires from qualifying which were a little bit older than we liked. I also think we missed the tire pressures at the end because the car was moving around a bit and we fell back a couple positions. Not where we want to be but happy to get a few points on the board.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Wichita State University / CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It was tough. I really feared that if we were going to get into a shootout situation and we were behind, not leading, that it was going to be tough for us. We didn’t quite have the ultimate speed. Some of that’s down to downforce choices tonight. We had a great race car. I’m so proud of my guys. We had a really incredible car and it was fun to run here. You can’t beat running around Iowa in an Indy car, it’s unbelievably fun. More fun for me because we had such a great race car.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet): “It was a shame for our night to end like that. I had been running the high line pretty well. I felt like I went in on the same line I had the lap before, but the No. 83 car just caught an extra marble or two and it went up the track. Once you’re up there in the marbles it just took off. I feel badly for the guys, but overall the car was pretty good and we made progress with the NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet.”
GABBY CHAVES (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins / Curb Honda): “It was a really big struggle out there all day. Couldn’t find any grip, just basically trying to survive the whole race. Hopefully we can figure out what the issue is and move forward from here.”