Iowa IndyCar: Ryan Hunter-Reay surges to victory
|By Mark Glendenning||Sunday, July 13th 2014, 04:04 GMT|
An inspired strategy call from the Andretti Autosport pitwall was rewarded with an unlikely IndyCar victory for Ryan Hunter-Reay at Iowa on Saturday night.
Hunter-Reay was among a clutch of drivers in the middle of the field to take advantage of a late caution to pit for tyres.
When the restart came with 10 laps to go he surged through the pack, catching and passing Tony Kanaan for the lead just two laps from the end.
"We took the tyres and it was a big gamble," Hunter-Reay said. "Our tyres were shot before that. Man that was fun, that was like a video game at the end. The thing was on rails.
"We had no shot where we were on the older tyres, so we just went for it."
Sarah Fisher Hartman's Josef Newgarden used an identical strategy to leap up to second; the pair derailing what was looking like an increasingly certain Ganassi one-two.
On an evening peppered with random variables, Kanaan's grip on the lead had been the closest thing to a constant: he led 247 of the 300 laps, and yet was helpless to respond when it counted and was left to settle for third ahead of Scott Dixon.
Ed Carpenter was fifth, although his involvement in the race will be remembered mostly for having been on the receiving end of Juan Pablo Montoya's ire after an incident that left the Colombian in the wall.
Montoya had ducked to Carpenter's inside, but Carpenter, unaware that he was under attack, decided to try a lower line and cut across the front of the Penske Dallara-Chevrolet, sending it spinning back into the wall.
Montoya remained on the track to gesticulate at Carpenter next time he came around, and made his continued displeasure clear in a TV interview a few minutes later.
Series officials determined - probably fairly - that it was racing incident, but it ended what had been an exciting night for the Colombian.
Having qualified near the back, Montoya fought his way into the top 10, only for his rear wing endplate to fall off and necessitate a visit to the pits for repairs that put him a lap down. He got his lap back later on, made up some places in his next stop, and at the time of the accident he was fighting Carpenter for sixth.
His Penske team-mates Helio Castroneves and Will Power both faded from frontrunning positions in the final laps - Power's backward progress being aided by a brush with the wall - yet Castroneves still emerged from the weekend with the points lead despite finishing eighth.
The evening was punctuated by six cautions for incidents that included a spin from Mikhail Aleshin that resulted in him collecting Takuma Sato on his way to the wall, and a fiery engine blow-up for Marco Andretti that was almost identical to the one that eliminated him in Texas.
Pre-race forecasts of heavy storms proved largely unfounded, although the race was red-flagged for 26 minutes due to light rains halfway through the first stint.
Results - 300 laps: Pos Driver Team/Engine Time/Gap 1. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti/Honda 2h01m58.8160s 2. Josef Newgarden Fisher/Honda +0.5814s 3. Tony Kanaan Ganassi/Chevy +1.0676s 4. Scott Dixon Ganassi/Chevy +2.7606s 5. Ed Carpenter Carpenter/Chevy +4.9819s 6. James Hinchcliffe Andretti/Honda +5.0135s 7. Graham Rahal Rahal/Honda +6.7976s 8. Helio Castroneves Penske/Chevy +7.1408s 9. Ryan Briscoe Ganassi/Chevy +7.1896s 10. Charlie Kimball Ganassi/Chevy +7.6098s 11. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt/Honda +7.7794s 12. Carlos Munoz Andretti/Honda +7.8190s 13. Justin Wilson Coyne/Honda +11.2612s 14. Will Power Penske/Chevy +11.7947s 15. Jack Hawksworth Herta/Honda -4 laps Retirements: Juan Pablo Montoya Penske/Chevy 280 laps Sebastian Saavedra KV/Chevy 258 laps Marco Andretti Andretti/Honda 229 laps Sebastien Bourdais KV/Chevy 130 laps Carlos Huertas Coyne/Honda 78 laps Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt/Honda 47 laps Takuma Sato Foyt/Honda 47 laps