Ryan Hunter-Reay’s second consecutive short track victory was reason enough to celebrate. Closing to three points of IZOD IndyCar Series championship front-runner Will Power was a bonus.
Hunter-Reay, who prevailed at the Milwaukee Mile a week earlier following a 90-minute rain delay, won the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway under caution. The start was delayed 40 minutes because of a thunderstorm.
Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car, led Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti by 1.2223 seconds on Lap 247 of 250 when the yellow flag flew the next lap for the No. 6 car driven by Katherine Legge making contact with the SAFER Barrier exiting Turn 2.
Andretti, the 2011 race winner, earned his first podium finish of the season. Tony Kanaan followed his runner-up finish to Hunter-Reay at Milwaukee with a third place and Scott Dixon was fourth. Simon Pagenaud, who started last in the 25-car field, climbed to fifth in his fourth oval race.
Also on June 23, Esteban Guerrieri held off Gustavo Yacaman by 0.4005 of a second to win the Sukup 100 at Iowa Speedway.
It was the third victory of the season for the driver of the No. 11 Pistas Argentinas/Sam Schmidt Motorsports with Curb Agajanian car. Guerrieri has finished in the top five in all but one race (seventh at Belle Isle), which has led him to the Firestone Indy Lights championship points lead.
Guerrieri, running second to teammate Tristan Vautier, inherited the lead on Lap 71 of 115 as Vautier was metered a drive-through penalty for blocking. He rallied to finish fourth (3.9 seconds back) in the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM with Curb Agajanian car.
Victor Carbone, driving the No. 3 Mav TV/Nevoni/SSM with Curb Agajanian car, finished a season-high third.
2012 Iowa Corn Indy 250 Highlights
1. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
2. (3) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
3. (19) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
4. (8) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 250, Running
5. (25) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 250, Running
6. (2) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
7. (11) Rubens Barrichello, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
8. (21) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 250, Running
9. (20) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 250, Running
10. (13) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 249, Running
11. (14) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 248, Running
12. (23) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 247, Running
13. (18) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 244, Running
14. (22) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Lotus, 244, Running
15. (16) Katherine Legge, Dallara-Chevy, 243, Contact
16. (9) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 207, Mechanical
17. (4) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 195, Contact
18. (5) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 178, Contact
19. (10) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 178, Contact
20. (17) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 123, Mechanical
21. (15) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 98, Mechanical
22. (12) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 95, Contact
23. (6) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 67, Contact
24. (24) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 67, Contact
25. (1) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 0, Mechanical
POST RACE INTERVIEW WITH
MICHAEL ANDRETTI – WINNING TEAM OWNER, NO. 28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA CHEVROLET
RYAN HUNTER-REAY – RACE WINNER – DRIVER OF NO. 28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA CHEVROLET
MARCO ANDRETTI – 2ND PLACE FINISHER – DRIVER OF NO. 26 TEAM RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET
TONY KANAAN – 3RD PLACE FINISHER – DRIVER OF NO. 11 GEICO/MOUSER ELECTRONICS KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET
THE MODERATOR: Michael, thank you for joining us. Two in a row, momentum is certainly with your team right now.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Awesome, I’ll tell you, it was a great day. I’m so happy for Ryan. He did a great job, and so happy for the whole team because all three cars are running really well. I think the only bummer was four hitting the wall there; if that wouldn’t have happened, I think we would have had a shot at a 1, 2, 3. To come away with a 1, 2 two, after the unbelievable weekend we had last weekend is fantastic, and now that really puts us in with Ryan, as well, for a championship.
Q. Marco pretty much said that this was a statement race and it shows that you guys are the team to beat. How do you feel about that?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Well, I hope that’s right. You know, I think we have been competitive all year, and we have been knocking on the door, and finally to break through the last two weekends has been great.
Now hopefully we can carry this momentum for the rest of the year, and like I said, I think we have two guys in a serious fight for the championship, which is, you know, great odds for us to have two guys up there. So real happy about that.
Q. Make you nervous having your teammates battling for the lead there at the end?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Always. When you see ?? at one point all three of them are right together, and I’m like, oh, boy. You’re always holding your breath watching it.
But they all really take care of each other, like each other and I knew they were not going to do anything stupid.
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by Ryan Hunter?Reay. Today’s victory moves him into second in the championship points standings. Talk about a great race for you and the team.
RYAN HUNTER?REAY: Thanks, guys. It’s really great to see all of you in here. That’s what I said last weekend when we won Milwaukee; I want to do it more often. I said it was hard work last weekend at the mile, but these short ovals, just they are a handful. Once you get to about halfway through the tire lights, you’re just doing everything you can to keep the car from hitting the wall on exits, and getting through traffic is extremely tough.
But I really have to thank my teammate Marco Andretti and the 26 team for coming here, testing. They were the one car from our team that tested and did an excellent job with the car, and we basically raced what they came up with in the test. So it’s a huge credit to them and really, the team is working very well together.
So it’s great to get another victory for the 28 DHL SunDrop team and get Chevy back on top, as well. It’s definitely nice being two in a row. Two in a row, that’s a game changer; that’s when you know we need to start running up here more often and putting performances like tonight together.
Q. We see you and your teammates and engineers routinely debriefing on pit lane, fairly informal collaborative and just cracking up; maybe not that formal in the way in the trailer kind of thing. Do you think that collaborative effort, kind of easy relationship you guys seem to have has played a role in the team coming forward so quickly?
RYAN HUNTER?REAY: Absolutely it does. That’s a good point. There’s nothing standing in the way ?? there’s nothing standing in the way communication?wise with all of us.
. We are very open with what we find. If one of us finds something that works, we are communicating it to the others, because we know it will benefit us and it’s already worked.
We have only been working the three of us together for, what, eight, nine races now, and it has a lot of potential, because we really, the communication is great. The atmosphere within the team is the best it’s been since I’ve been here for sure. We are quick and as a group and after practice, we always get together like you said and we hash it out on what we thought worked for one another and what we think didn’t, and that certainly makes a difference when you have a three?car team.
Q. Not only are you second in the points but you are three out, looking at the races coming up, some road course races, how viable is it that you’re going to be at Fontana battling for the championship?
RYAN HUNTER?REAY: You know, it all comes down to consistency and that’s how championships are won. We have to be consistent. We have to go week?in and week?out and be consistently strong and be within the Top?5, for sure, every weekend and certainly the Penske team will and the Ganassi guys and also some wild cards will show up on a lot of these street and road courses.
So we have to be good there. But we do have Fontana on the schedule and our cars have been really good on the ovals, even the big ones. We just have to be consistent. That’s all we are really focused on, and we are at a point now where we are happen way through the season.
So there’s still a long, long way to go. I for sure don’t feel like I’m almost there so to speak. I have the same feeling I had after I left Milwaukee: This is not good enough. We need to dig deeper and that’s what we need to do for sure.
Q. The heat races earlier in the week, do you feel like you learned a lot about the car and everything from those and that helped you out tonight? Or once you got out was it a wash and start all over again?
RYAN HUNTER?REAY: The thing about the heat races, I love the idea but we are all on new tires, and on new tires as you saw tonight, everybody kind of runs single file until the tires fall off halfway through the stint, which happens to be the last 30, which is where we finished the heat races last night.
So we were just getting to the interesting point in the tires when the checkered flag came down. We found out what not to do last night. We tried something and we figured if we try it, we need to try it now because tomorrow night, we need to make this thing stick. We found out what didn’t work, which sometimes is as valuable as finding out something that does.
Q. Noticed there was a couple of incidents coming out of corner two; was that a tricky spot tonight?
RYAN HUNTER?REAY: The car is so light, because of the reduced downforce that we have this year, this track raced a lot different. Coming out of turn two, you were on a four?wheel drift in traffic and you’re sliding, trying not to hit the wall; and at the same time you’re trying to set up a pass.
It was extremely tricky coming out of two. You had moments where you thought you don’t have enough grip; and you come around the next lap and the rear would be coming around on you. It was extremely dodgy at times, and it was difficult, really, to keep on top of your tools in the car. The guys asked me at one point, “Do you want more front wing?” And I was like, I don’t know, I don’t know if I do, because at one end I want it. And the other end I don’t and at this point in the tires I do and at this point, I don’t. Very difficult. Very difficult.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, congratulations on back?to?back wins and thanks for taking the time to join us.
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosports who finished second, his best finish of the season for Marco, and also Tony Kanaan, who finished third, his third podium finish of the season.
Tony, you started in the 19th position to make it all the way up to third. Talk about another great race for you at Iowa.
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, it was a good race. Obviously I wish I could have started a little bit further up, but it was a long day for us, but it was not a good result. We are improving every race. Hopefully we get the win soon.
THE MODERATOR: Marco, a great, great battle with your teammate there to take the top two spots today.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, definitely a credit to the team. I think we have improved hugely, and it’s just because of the three of us. I think we have just been working great together. Definitely that was a statement that Andretti Autosports is back on top, so it feels good.
As for me, I came up short. But a great team effort for sure.
Q. As well as you two have done the last few weeks on the mile ovals, sad thing is you’re not going to see another oval until the end of the year. How do you feel heading into these street races that you guys can continue this momentum?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, for me, for a while I was not looking forward to street races, but we had a great car in Detroit; we kind of just rolled the dice in the race and the thing responded really well. So I’m looking forward to Toronto. It feels good to be looking forward to a street course finally.
TONY KANAAN: We have two great races. We had a great race in Detroit, so I’m not sad of anything. Whatever comes, it comes. You have to be good at everything, if you want to be able to be a championship contender.
Q. This is for you both. Some drivers develop an affinity for certain racetracks. Both of you guys clearly have a handle on Iowa. What is it about this place that both of you like?
TONY KANAAN: You’ve got to drive. That’s my opinion. It’s a driver’s track. So you know, if you don’t put it out there, you don’t get a good result, then I think between the two of us, I know exactly who was racing today, and we’ve been teammates for a long time.
So we know exactly what to do. We know each other too well. So when we are racing each other, it’s find of funny, and not at the same time, because we kind of know every move we are going to make to each other.
Q. You both talked last week about changing the restart procedure maybe for this week; was it any better?
MARCO ANDRETTI: I don’t know what was different.
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, I don’t know what was different, either. I mean, it was still double?file.
I think if you’re talking about he moved the acceleration point a little bit, but that didn’t make a lot of difference.
So I think what he did change, he said in the driver’s meeting, is the way he’s policing how somebody was going to jump the start or not, which for us, we don’t know what he’s doing. So as far as to police that ?? I guess it was okay today.
Q. How odd was it when you came around that first lap under yellow, and here is the 10 car in smoke; that’s something you probably never expected to see. His team to have an issue like that before the race ever started.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Normally I want Dario’s luck, but not today.
TONY KANAAN: I saw a big, white cloud and I thought it was fireworks. Then it was kind of a mix, because Tag spun, as well, so there was two cars there and I didn’t really pay attention until we did four laps and then I see Dario out there, and I’m like, oh, tough like for him.
That’s how this championship is. It’s getting pretty exciting. Right now it’s time to keep making points. Me and Marco definitely were running behind, and whenever, you know, Dario, Dixon, Will, those guys, they rarely make a mistake. And when they make a mistake, you have to capitalize on, it otherwise you’ll never catch them.
Q. Tony, you were obviously looking ahead all night, but with the race over, are you impressed Rubens finished seventh and now realizing he’s becoming someone to fear in ovals, as well.
TONY KANAAN: I know. I kept looking at the board there. I could see his number moving up and up and I’m like, okay, all right, he’s going to be up here soon.
He’s, you know, he’s a great driver. What can I say? I mean, the guy, yeah ?? he’s still Rubens, you’ve got to understand that. I know from the experience that I had, I was talking to him this afternoon, and 14 years I have ahead of him against three races, and I think he’s done a remarkable job. You know, he’s going to have to choose if he wants to stay here next year; if he does, we’d better watch out.
THE MODERATOR: I know the first half of the season has not necessarily been the finishes you’re looking for; how much does the podium finish give you a shot in the arm going into the rest of the season?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, it’s great, obviously we wanted that top spot. We’re still in that win drought which is killing me inside to be honest. Hopefully this will bump us up in points and we can start the momentum now, because it’s been horrendous. It’s been frustrating. We ran well at Indy but we came up short, a lot of unfortunate things have been hammering and so we just have to keep hammering.