NEWTON, Iowa -- It was a dominating performance for Tony Kanaan … until Lap 298.
Kanaan, who started second in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, led 247 laps of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB, but couldn’t stave off Ryan Hunter-Reay in the final two laps.
A “gutsy move” for fresh tires under caution on Lap 284 propelled Hunter-Reay, whose No. 28 DHL car was running 10th on the Lap 292 restart, to victory by .5814 of a second over Josef Newgarden in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing entry. Newgarden, who started 21st and was running 11th at the green flag for the final restart, also pitted for tires on Lap 284 and overtook Kanaan on the final lap to tie his career-best finish.
It was the fifth consecutive victory at Iowa Speedway for Andretti Autosport, which has won six of the eight races on the .894-mile, variably-banked oval.
“That was crazy. We took the tires as a big gamble and credit to (race engineer) Ray Gosselin and (race strategist/team owner) Michael Andretti for making that call,” said Hunter-Reay, whose two laps led were the first since he won the Indianapolis 500. “That was fun. It was like a video game at the end. We had a tough day, but you have to keep your head in it in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
Click it: Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKLAB box score
Hunter-Reay had recorded only two top-10 finishes in the six races since Indianapolis on May 25. He reclaimed third place in the championship standings – 32 points behind new front-runner Helio Castroneves of Team Penske, who finished eighth.
“We stole it today but I’ll take it any way we can get it,” Andretti said. “We’ve lost many that way. It was a day we probably weren’t supposed to win but, like I said, we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
It was Hunter-Reay’s third victory of the season, and though Kanaan tied his season high he was disappointed not to give Target Chip Ganassi Racing its first victory of the season. There have been eight different winners, representing six teams, in the 12 races.
“It’s such a shame because we dominated the race,” said Kanaan, who won the race in 2010 and finished on the podium each of the past five years at Iowa Speedway. “To win races we have to run up front, so we’ll take the third place and go to Toronto.”
Teammate Scott Dixon, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion who claimed his first Verizon P1 Award of the season, finished fourth and Ed Carpenter advanced five positions relative to his starting spot for fifth place in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka car.
No pole sitter has won at Iowa Speedway.
The race was red-flagged after 39 laps because of moisture on the racetrack and resumed after a 26-minute delay. The last red flag because of rain was at Sao Paulo in 2011.