It's refreshing to see Ryan Hunter-Reay win a race given the kind of season he's been having. Myself and many others were beginning to doubt RHR's pace this year and if there was some underlying issue going on with the team. His win at Iowa will definitely shut his critics up. It's a good moment for RHR to look back at, but unfortunately, it is too little too late for the championship.
Man, I thought Josef Newgarden had the race in the bag. Josef was running out front for good portion of the mid-to-late parts of the race, but RHR pitted earlier than Josef and came out in front of him and stayed there. Still, Josef continues to show that he can be a superstar in Indycar, and consistent podium results is proof of this.
Sage Karam caused quite the stir after the race. Many drivers, like Ed Carpenter and Graham Rahal, accused Karam of being overly aggressive and dangerous. While from a drivers point of view that may have been correct, as a fan, it was fun to watch. I thought Karam was much worse at Fontana as far as blocking and chopping. This race, I thought Karam ran an aggressive and determined race. With poor performances abounding this year, Karam really needed a good showing in order to merit rides in the future. This podium will go a long way towards that. I loved watching him race, and I think this is the kind of driver Indycar has been thirsting for.
Graham Rahal had the best car and did some masterful driveing last night. He worked his way to the front, but a gearbox issue put him a lap down. Rahal cycled to P1, but with a pitstop looming, he was set to go a lap down. He caught a break when Takuma Sato crashed, allowing him to pit with the leaders and stay on the lead lap. He then carved his way to the front, shooting the gap on Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves in one of the most epic passes I've seen in person. He fought hard for a top-five and is now second in points. It was a championship caliber effort from him and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, great stuff.
I feel Team Penske never has a prayer at Iowa. I've gone for nine years and, to my delight, Penske has had nine rough years at Iowa. This year, it wasn't any different than the past. Championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya suffered a suspension failure and crashed, so not his fault. Helio Castroneves had a great first half of the race, but a terrible second half of the race. It's a vintage Helio race of qualifying on the pole but not coming home with the win. Will Power was pretty bad on short stints, but he salvaged a top-ten at the end of the day (still had a pretty ugly car). And Simon Pagenaud looked pretty mediocre, barely cracking the top-ten all race. I'm not sure what Team Penske has to do differently at Iowa, but their lack of results at the track is a little confusing.
Chip Ganassi Racing
Other than Sage Karam, Chip Ganassi Racing had a terrible day. Tony Kanaan, who was never out of the top-three, retired with mechanical issues. Scott Dixon suffered a rear axle failure, ruining his top-five performance. Charlie Kimball, who was largely anonymous up until his accident, had himself an accident. Not the best day for Ganassi.
Ed Carpenter drove a great race. But his beef with Sage Karam was a bit far-fetched if you ask me. Karam and Carpenter were battling on track on the last restart for a podium finish. The nearly touched several times, with Karam ultimately blocking Ed a couple times. It was a thrilling battle to watch. Ed gave Karam a piece of his mind after the race on live TV, cussing him out. Karam took it like a man, while Ed came off as an asshole. He may have been right that Karam's driving from his point of view, but he went about it the wrong way. So yes Ed ran a great race despite the fact that he's been having a terrible year, but again, his actions make me shake my head.
Just like Milwaukee, Pippa Mann prematurely retired from the race without any sort of terminal failures inside the car or contact. Unlike Milwaukee, the retirement at Iowa can be attributed to a poor race car. There were several moments in the race where Pippa could have lost control of the car, but she managed to save it. The last moment she had caused Justin Wilson to slide up and brush the wall. Pippa and the Dale Coyne Racing team then decided to retire the car, so they didn't trash the car and someone else's race. It's been a rough two weeks for Pippa, and with Pocono a couple weeks away, she and the team have a limited amount of time to sort things out.
Cone of Shame
I really like Stefano Coletti. He's fast, talented, and aggressive. Unfortunately, he has some of the worst race craft I have ever seen. He's gotten one top-ten this season (GP of Indy), and the rest has been utter shit. Teammate Sebastien Bourdais continues to thrive, while Coletti continues to get in incident after incident. The first incident occurred between him, Charlie Kimball, and Graham Rahal. Coletti would go five laps down, which is par to the course on his season. He would later spin out and make contact with the wall, ending his race. Like I said, this race has is a reflection of what Coletti has done all season: under preform. I appreciate his enthusiasm to race on ovals and in Indycar in general, but so far he has been a failure.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for a Race Day Diary.