Saturday’s victory in the Iowa Corn 250 for Marco Andretti was more than a relief – it was fun.
Andretti fought off Tony Kanaan in the closing laps to secure his second IZOD IndyCar Series victory – his first since 2006.
After taking the lead due to great pit work on Lap 184, Andretti lost the lead to Tony Kanaan on the restart. But he passed Kanaan with a daring move on lap 232 and held off a hard-charging Brazallian for the win.
The racing under the lights at the Iowa Speedway on the 7/8 mile track was intense.
“I mean, it was fun racing. You know, it’s always nice at the front. You know you can always trust those guys. It was close, it was dicy, but that’s what the fans want. We had a packed house tonight. It was good to see. I’m glad we could put on a bit of a show anyway,” Andretti said afterwards. “But yeah, I think the last 30 laps I was really asking how many laps to go because I didn’t want to wait until three laps to go to make the move because if he would have chopped me or something, I would have been way back kind of like what I did to him. I wanted to kind of be in the driver’s seat and kind of make the move when he was least expecting it, and from there we had to really put our head down.”
It was the 79th start for Marco Andretti since his first win.
“All I’ve gained is experience,” he said. “We’ve been in a position to win a lot of races we’ve come up short, so it’s more, I think, relieved is the word. You know, I never doubted the team, never doubted myself. I always said as soon as the stars were aligned and a little bit of luck goes my way that we’d be sitting here.”
Marco Andretti’s win was the third in five years at Iowa for Andretti Autosport. It was the team’s second win of the season, but the first after enduring a tough month at Indianapolis and struggling at Texas and Milwaukee.
“It was a big win for us for sure,” team owner Michael Andretti said. “I think a lot of people were really pounding on us and thought we were down and out, but I can tell you this team has got tons of fight in it, and we are never out. We got together and made a few little changes in the team, and everybody just rallied and everybody worked their butts off, and here we are. I’m just proud of everybody on this team.”
The second was Kanaan’s best finish of the season. But he couldn’t get around Andretti.
“It’s not that I’m not happy, it’s just ‑‑ yeah, well, obviously we ran the low line the whole time,” Kanaan said. “The lower line was quicker, and I set him up, he came out of 4 a little high, and I came to the bottom. And what happens is you can’t say it’s a block because he gave me space for a car, but coming into turn 1 that tight all the way on the white line, there was no way I was going to turn. I was going to actually start to wash up a little bit. And what he did, he just stayed there; he didn’t give me any space, so I had to lift.
Scott Dixon, who started 23rd, finished third, followed by J.R. Hildebrand and points leader Dario Franchitti.
Franchitti led the most laps, but the last pit stop, the team had issues with a tire.
“We had a bit of problem on that last pit stop and Marco got ahead. All night we had been getting more and more oversteer, and once we got in traffic I was toast. We struggled at the end.”
Will Power’s championship hopes took a major setback after hitting the wall in Turn 2 following an incident in the pits with Charlie Kimball put him back in the pack. Power finished 21st and trails Franchitti by 20 points.
He also was diagnosed with a small concussion.
“It was definitely a hard hit,” said Power. “The Verizon car was damaged after the incident in the pits and we just had a problem with the steering and it came around on me. It’s a tough result for us tonight. We’ll do our best to get it back next race.”
The IZOD IndyCar Series will be back in action July 10 at Toronto.
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