Today’s Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. ‘Stolen win’ could propel Hunter-Reay to another series crown
2. Inside the Box Score: Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB
1. ‘Stolen win’ could propel Hunter-Reay to another series crown: Ryan Hunter-Reay has experienced the exhilaration of a dominating race victory in his Indy car career and now the sensation of “stealing one.”
Hunter-Reay set Indy car records for most and consecutive race laps led and laps led by a race winner when he led all 250 laps of a Champ Car-sanctioned event in Milwaukee on June 5, 2004, for his second career victory.
He led the final two laps to win the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB on July 12. His previous laps led low in a win was nine in earning his win in 2008 at Watkins Glen.
Tony Kanaan led a field-high 247 laps but couldn’t hold off Hunter-Reay, who pitted for fresh Firestone Firehawks on the No. 28 DHL car on Lap 284 under caution. Hunter-Reay advanced nine positions in eight laps following the Lap 292 restart on the .894-mile, variably-banked oval – turning his fastest race lap of 179.405 mph on Lap 296 – two laps before he overtook Kanaan’s No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
“I’ve learned in the years of experience that I’ve had in the Verizon IndyCar Series that you just have to keep your head in it,” said Hunter-Reay, who posted his third victory of the season. “No matter what, you have to charge hard and be ready for it. Whether it’s a street circuit, short oval, races can turn. We made the right call and we had the car that could take it.”
Kanaan’s tire degradation was pronounced as he dropped 2 mph each lap from 176.103 mph on Lap 298 to 172.597 on Lap 300. The hard-charging Josef Newgarden, who also was on fresh tires when he took the green flag on the final restart in 11th position, overtook Kanaan to tie his career best of second place for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. Kanaan, who has led a combined 325 laps in the past two races, earned his fifth consecutive podium finish at Iowa Speedway.
“I don’t want to say I was sitting there smiling in the car, but it was a lot of fun,” Hunter-Reay added. “I don’t know how to describe it other than to me it felt like a video game because you’re picking them off. It was just like warp speed. Cars were just flying by one after the other. I knew we had a shot at it, but that was pretty cool how it ended. I didn’t think we’d have enough time.”
There are six races over the next seven weeks for Hunter-Reay to make hay in the championship. He reclaimed third place in the standings with the 14th victory of his career – 32 points behind the front-running Helio Castroneves of Team Penske. Will Power is nine points out of first place.
A streak akin to 2012, when Hunter-Reay won consecutive races at Milwaukee, Iowa and Toronto to aid his title pursuit, would place him in solid contention heading into the Triple Crown series double-points season finale Aug. 30 at Auto Club Speedway. Last year on those three racetracks, Hunter-Reay won at Milwaukee, was runner-up at Iowa but finished 18th and 19th in the Toronto doubleheader after qualifying in the top six for both races on the temporary street circuit.
The Honda Indy Toronto – twin 85-lap races with Race 1 on July 19 featuring a standing start – is up next. Both races carry full points. The ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest is Aug. 17.
“We’ve just been historically good on short ovals,” said Hunter-Reay, who extended Andretti Autosport’s winning streak to five years at Iowa Speedway. “The record looks really good. We got a win out of it, making the right call. But we’re going to go back and do some homework for Milwaukee.”
2. Inside the Box Score: Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB: Numbers to note from the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB, the 12th race of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
1.18 – Average running position of Tony Kanaan during the 300 laps of racing at Iowa Speedway.
8 – Positions gained by Ryan Hunter-Reay in the final 30 laps (ninth to first). … Consecutive seasons that Scott Dixon has won at least one pole.
9 – Positions gained by Josef Newgarden in the final 30 laps (11th to second).
14 – Career Indy car victories by Ryan Hunter-Reay, who is the only driver to win three races this season.
19 – Positions improved by Newgarden (21st to second) during the Iowa Corn Indy 300, the second consecutive week he has gained the most race positions.
27 – Laps that Newgarden improved his position over the 300 laps of competition, most of any driver.
145 – Consecutive starts for Marco Andretti, tying Bobby Rahal, Gil de Ferran and his father Michael for eighth on the all-time list.
227 – Consecutive starts by Kanaan dating to the 2001 CART race in Portland. Kanaan extended his all-time record.
247 – Laps led by Kanaan at Iowa, most by a driver in any race this season. Kanaan has led 325 of the past 500 laps of competition.
The next Verizon IndyCar Series event is the Honda Indy Toronto 2 in T.O. doubleheader onJuly 19-20 on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place. The races on both days will be televised live at 3 p.m. (ET) by NBCSN (Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640/1640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network (Local affiliates, XM 209 and Sirius 213), the Verizon INDYCAR 14 App and www.indycar.com.