Going into the 2013 edition of the IZOD IndyCar Series Iowa Corn Indy 250, no driver had ever won from the pole position. That streak continued Saturday at Iowa Speedway, but James Hinchcliffe put on a dominant performance, leading 226 of the race’s 250 laps.
He even led the lap that counted most.
“I got by Will [Power] on Lap One and never really looked back,” he said. “We had an aggressive set-up today, there were a lot of unknowns going into this race, and it wound up being cooler than we expected. But, when I needed it, the car was awesome today ... Iowa is where GoDaddy got its start, so it was good to get the home track win for my sponsor.”
Asked about his dominance in the media center following the race, Hinchcliffe pointed to the performance of his Andretti Autosport teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 winner of the race. Hunter-Reay, who had a mishap on Lap 38 that led to the race’s first of three caution periods, dropped back to 22nd position — last place — before clawing his way back to the podium with a runner-up finish.
“I had a really bad understeer, there wasn’t any downforce in the wing,” he said. “So, when I tried to turn down to avoid Graham [Rahal], I couldn’t go anywhere ... But we had a great day, getting back, and even had some fun. Finishing second after being dead last, I’m really happy with that. I’m bummed I couldn’t repeat, but once again, the Andretti Autosport cars were the cars to beat.”
Andretti Autosport team owner Michael Andretti said teamwork within his organization has been the biggest advantage his four race teams have had this season.
It has resulted in three of teams holding second, third and fourth in the IZOD IndyCar standings.
“We have been working great as a team. That’s why we’re getting our results,” he said. “We focus on team and teamwork. Indycar is tough because there’s not a lot of track time, so getting information is very important; good, accurate information, information you can trust.”
With four cars working together, gathering data that each of the other teams can trust, results in Andretti Autosport getting “four times the work done,” he added.
With just nine races left on the schedule, there’s a good chance that could result in yet another IndyCar championship.
All three drivers on the podium had their run-ins with Rahal during the race. On a restart at Lap 159, Hinchcliffe and Rahal battled side-by-side for a few laps — Rahal leading one of the laps for his only lap led during the race — before Hinchcliffe was able to get out in front and stay there for good.
Tony Kanaan, who finished third, raced Rahal hard to the finish.
“I battled with Rahal at end. I think he raced me pretty hard,” he said. “It was a tough battle ... he definitely made his car pretty wide a few times there.”
Kanaan refused to buy any complaints about passing at Iowa Speedway, though. He said drivers have to deal with traffic at every venue on the circuit. He said “being a gentleman” isn’t always an option, particularly at a short track.
“It’s our shortest track, so you’re going to have traffic every lap,” he said. “At the end of race, even the lapped cars are racing for position. Sometimes, they happen to be in your (preferred) lane, too. If you keep letting them go by, at a race like this, in 10 laps you’ll be letting the same people go by.”
Going into the race, analysts suggested a “green” track — heavily watered earlier in the day by downpours — would lead to difficulty passing on a track where passing already wasn’t easy. Single-file racing was the expectation.
The drivers showed why they are among the best in the world, sometimes going three-wide in the backstretch.
“(To an outsider), we probably looked like a bunch of nuts out there,” Hunter-Reay said. “From where I was sitting, it definitely was an action-packed race. In the car, you’re so busy, because you’re only holding the wheel straight for about four seconds per lap. I had a clear track twice, and each time, it felt like a vacation, then you get back into the rough stuff. It was just nuts. But that’s what I love about this place.”