Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden in the No.1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet started Sunday’s Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway from second place on the grid and completely dominated the first two thirds of the race before Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe caught and overtook the Tennessee native to take the victory.
On lap 296 Newgarden pitted for fuel and tires under caution with the defending champion re-emerging in fourth place and that is where he finished.
The result has moved the Tennessee native into second place in the championship, 33 points behind leader Scott Dixon. Speaking following the race he said:
This is IndyCar racing. You have to expect the unexpected. It’s never sorted out and locked up right at the beginning. We had a great No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet and for the first half of the race, we had the car to beat. And it just fell away from us. Sometimes you can’t predict exactly what you’re going to need at the end of these things. Today, we didn’t have exactly what it was that we needed but we’ll come back and try it again. I think Hinch did a great job. Congrats to him and SPM. They deserved the win. They did a great job at the end there and happy for those guys. I’m just disappointed. We had such a good car and could have capitalized on it in the end but we just seemed to get worse as the race went on. All the guys did a great job. The Hitachi car was fast and Team Chevy did a great job. We’ll just chalk it up to we need to be a little better for next time.”
Iowa pole sitter Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet had a disappointing race as he came home in sixth place in the race after losing ground during the opening stint in the race.
Speaking following the event the Indianapolis 500 champion commented by saying:
I think we lost a lot of ground in the first stint because there was something going on with the radio. The team called me in for three laps and I just didn’t hear it. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of positions. We lost a lot and went backwards at that point. The rest of it, we were just forward and back all day. The car was just reasonable. I think a top five would be the best we could do so sixth was ok.
Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 Menards Chevrolet started the race from fourth place and finished in eighth and speaking following the race he said:
I’ll tell you, when you are going that fast around this short oval it’s really hard to understand who is on the lead lap and who is not on the lead lap, who you are fighting for position – so there is a lot of communication with the spotter and with the strategist. I think we had good speed. I got stuck in traffic a lot of time and that was enough to get checked out from (Josef) Newgarden who I think was really fast today and obviously (James) Hinchcliffe, congrats to him. But, yeah, I think we had quite a bit of tire degradation which was tough in traffic, but essentially it was an awesome race. From the cockpit I had so much fun. It was about setting up people trying to understand where they were running, where your car was best with the tire degradation running high, running low, conserving your tires it really was a lot of thinking, a lot of driving and to me that is a lot of fun. That is pure racing.