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.
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.
Graham 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.
“I think we had a really fast car this weekend,” commented Dixon. “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.”
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.”
1. (9) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 300, Running
2. (7) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 300, Running
3. (10) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 300, Running
4. (17) Graham Rahal, Honda, 300, Running
5. (12) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 300, Running
6. (11) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 300, Running
7. (8) Marco Andretti, Honda, 300, Running
8. (19) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 300, Running
9. (24) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 300, Running
10. (6) Will Power, Chevrolet, 300, Running
11. (1) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 300, Running
12. (20) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 299, Running
13. (21) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 299, Running
14. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 299, Running
15. (14) James Jakes, Honda, 299, Running
16. (23) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 299, Running
17. (18) Justin Wilson, Honda, 297, Running
18. (4) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 263, Running
19. (15) Takuma Sato, Honda, 260, Contact
20. (13) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 191, Contact
21. (2) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 189, Mechanical
22. (16) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 170, Contact
23. (22) Pippa Mann, Honda, 136, Handling
24. (3) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 9, Contact
Media: IndyCar Series