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Marco Andretti ends his IndyCar win drought at last at Iowa

Marco Andretti wins at IowaMarco Andretti finally claimed his second IndyCar Series win under the lights at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night, almost five years after his maiden triumph.

The Andretti Autosport won a superb late battle with his former team-mate Tony Kanaan, now at KV Racing Technology, with Scott Dixon coming through from 23rd on the grid to third for Ganassi.

Polesitter Takuma Sato crashed out late on, while long-time leader Dario Franchitti faded to fifth behind JR Hildebrand, but still moved into a clear points lead as title rival Will Power had a pit incident with Charlie Kimball and later spun into the wall.

Ganassi driver Franchitti seemed to have the race under control for most of the evening. He moved up from sixth on the grid to first within just seven laps, ending an early KV one-two formation that had seen polesitter Sato holding team-mate Kanaan at bay.

The champion and the KV duo were joined in a lead pack by Andretti and Penske's Helio Castroneves, until the latter found himself having to pit under green with a deflating tyre while challenging for the lead - just as he had at Milwaukee only six days earlier.

Andretti finally got through to the lead for the first time on lap 158, though only for three laps before Franchitti was back in front.

But at the final pitstops the Andretti crew managed to turn their driver around faster, with Andretti sweeping past Franchitti in the pit exit.

Those stops happened just as Sato brought out the last yellow by spinning into the Turn 2 wall and at the subsequent restart, Kanaan pushed Franchitti down to third and set off after Andretti in what became a private lead battle. They would swap first place no fewer than five times in the closing stint before Andretti finally made a small but crucial break, going on to take his first victory since the Sears Point triumph of his rookie season in 2006.

Dixon steadily crept forward from his lowly grid spot and was soon in the top 10. He then pounced on team-mate Franchitti when the Scot lost momentum trying to pass Kanaan, taking third. Panther's JR Hildebrand edged Franchitti back to fifth soon afterwards, in a very strong run for the American rookie.

Penske had to settle for sixth and seventh with Ryan Briscoe and the delayed Castroneves. Their team-mate Power sustained early damage when he collided with Kimball in the pitlane, and later crashed heavily in an incident that Power, who sustained a slight concussion, reckoned was caused by damage from the pit clash.

Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti) was eighth ahead of Newman/Haas' James Hinchcliffe, whose team-mate Oriol Servia was a top five contender until a disastrous final pitstop dropped him to 14th.

Front row starter Danica Patrick (Andretti) could not match her qualifying speed in the race and ultimately finished 10th.

The race saw a string of heavy accidents at the bumpy Turn 2. In addition to Power and Sato's evenings ending at that spot, James Jakes, Sebastian Saavedra and Ana Beatriz all lost control at the same turn - with the latter collecting Mike Conway in her crash.

Results - 250 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team                    Time/Gap
 1.  Marco Andretti      Andretti           1h53m00.1074s
 2.  Tony Kanaan         KV                     + 0.7932s
 3.  Scott Dixon         Ganassi                + 1.1067s
 4.  JR Hildebrand       Panther                + 1.4856s
 5.  Dario Franchitti    Ganassi                + 1.8926s
 6.  Ryan Briscoe        Penske                 + 2.3628s
 7.  Helio Castroneves   Penske                 + 2.6732s
 8.  Ryan Hunter-Reay    Andretti               + 4.1625s
 9.  James Hinchcliffe   Newman/Haas            + 5.6272s
10.  Danica Patrick      Andretti               + 6.0327s
11.  Ed Carpenter        Sarah Fisher           + 7.6745s
12.  Justin Wilson       Dreyer & Reinbold     + 14.1527s
13.  Alex Lloyd          Dale Coyne            + 16.8865s
14.  Oriol Servia        Newman/Haas              + 1 lap
15.  Graham Rahal        Ganassi                  + 1 lap
16.  Alex Tagliani       Sam Schmidt              + 1 lap


     EJ Viso             KV                      239 laps
     Vitor Meira         Foyt                    227 laps
     Takuma Sato         KV                      182 laps
     Sebastian Saavedra  Conquest                114 laps
     Will Power          Penske                   89 laps
     Charlie Kimball     Ganassi                  62 laps
     Ana Beatriz         Dreyer & Reinbold        44 laps
     Mike Conway         Andretti                 44 laps
     James Jakes         Dale Coyne               22 laps
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Sato claims first IndyCar pole