Winners and Losers: Iowa

Here are the winners, losers, and Cone of Shame winner following the 2017 Iowa Corn Indy 300:

Winners

Helio Castroneves
He finally won a race. It only took three years, but he did it. I honestly thought Helio Castroneves was going to lose again due to lack of tire management in the first half of the race. But he caught some good yellows, made some adjustments, and absolutely nailed the last two stints of the race. He negotiated traffic better than any of the leaders. The win comes at a perfect time given the rumors about his departure next season.


JR Hildebrand
The late call to pit early to bank some laps on new tires was a good call, as JR Hildebrand jumped from 5th to 1st on the cycle. However, he could not hold off Helio Castroneves, who did a much better job of navigating through traffic on newer tires. Still, it's another impressive oval result for the American from California.


Ryan Hunter-Reay
Of the heavy hitters stuck in the back of the field at the start, I thought it would be Ryan Hunter-Reay who would have the toughest time moving forward given that Andretti Autosport hadn't done a whole lot on the weekend. However, RHR bltized his way to the front and finished third thanks to some great passes and some good pit stops.


Graham Rahal
Graham Rahal had a sneaky good race, aggressively passing people on his way to a P5 finish. To me there's two championships going on: which driver can finish first in the championship, and which driver finishes highest that isn't on Team Penske or Scott Dixon. Currently, Rahal is the highest in that category.



Losers

AJ Foyt Enterprises
AJ Foyt Enterprises should use the rest of the year as an elongated testing schedule because they are clearly unprepared and unfocused. Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly, who had separate matching contacts with the wall in turn four, both retiring, didn't have a chance (again, like most races this season) to show what they can actually do.


Mikhail Aleshin
This may sum up Mikhail Aleshin's season. After starting well and working his way up to P4, Aleshin spun and hit the wall before the first pit stop. If there's any driver that's in hot water right now, it should be Aleshin. He's been very underwhelming this year.


Ed Carpenter
Ed Carpenter was solid in the first half of the race and then suddenly disappeared in the second half of the race. It's especially damning given that his teammate finished second. Carpenter has never won a race on a short track, and to me its really puzzling.


The Other Three Andretti Cars
Marco Andretti was worthless (shock). Alexander Rossi was nowhere all race. And Takuma Sato continues an underwhelming season despite winning the Indy 500. And yet somehow Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third. It's an unacceptable performance from his teammates.



Cone of Shame



Iowa Speedway
I don't know who thought it was a good idea to extend the incredibly stupid time of a 4:45pm central time start on a Sunday, but whoever is doing it can potentially kill the race. It's no secret that people in the neighboring states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and yes, especially Indiana travel far to attend the race in Newton. However, if the race were a Saturday night race, which is the best possible time, people could travel far, watch the race, and then spend the night. A Sunday late afternoon race means people have to travel far to get home in order to not take a day off on Monday. For many, that means people they don't get home until well after midnight. The crowds showed. This was the worst crowd at Iowa by far. Given that there's only 35,000 seats, half empty is brutal. Any other race would get axed for this. If Iowa doesn't go back to Saturday night ASAP, the race could eventually be scratched from the schedule.



Thanks for reading!

-Matthew Hickey