Simon Pagenaud has charged from 23rd to the front of the field to clinch victory in race 1 of the Iowa IndyCar 250s, with Scott Dixon ensuring Chip Ganssai Racing’s podium streak continues to notch his fourth trip to the rostrum in five races by holding onto a sublime second place.
Arrow McLaren SP racer Oliver Askew would claim his maiden podium finish in a thrilling race under lights at the storied Iowa Speedway.
However, the race was overshadowed by two significant incidents
The first of which saw Will Power’s turbulent 2020 campaign suffer another blow when he collided with the outside barrier at Turn 3 on lap 144.
The errant left front tyre of the #12 Penske narrowly missed collecting his helmet as it bounced back across the circuit, clipping the newly-mandated aeroscreen as Power skated by.
The second major accident of the evening involved series sophomore Colton Herta and IndyCar rookie Rinus Veekay.
The crash was the first big test of IndyCar’s aeroscreen head protection for drivers. Herta’s car launched over VeeKay’s right by the driver’s cockpit with a piece of debris collecting an innocent Marcus Ericsson.
Josef Newgarden wrestled the lead from pole-sitter Conor Daly in the opening stages of the race, with Power in tow.
Power would eventually find his way past the stern defence of Daly on lap 50 but the margin to Newgarden was a mammoth six-seconds.
Having started last, Pagenaud had worked himself inside the Top 15 before making his first pitstop on lap 53, the first of the field to do so.
The undercut ensured he unlapped himself from the leaders and can continue to hack away the margin to the front, elevating himself to sixth by the time the leaders all made their first stop.
However, as Power resumed his tussle for the lead with Newgarden, his left front tyre made a dash for freedom, sending the Australian hard into the wall and bringing out the caution.
The yellow played perfectly into the hands of Dixon who was able to stop while the rest of the field cruised around at low speeds, leapfrogging himself into fourth at the restart.
The race was again neutralised when Herta and Veekay came together in a scary accident all while Dixon was snapping on the heels of the newly-promoted leader Pagenaud.
Fuelled to the chequered flag, Dixon would immediately go on the attack on Pagenaud. But lap-after-lap the pair would encounter traffic, giving the Penske pilot an extra layer of defence.
Dixon closed up on Pagenaud again in traffic, but didn’t truly look faster, and the #22 Penske won by half a second for his first win of the season and the first by a non-Chip Ganassi car.
“I can’t believe it, I have to rewatch the race. How did I get here, I don’t know,” Pagenaud said after the race.
“The last 50 laps, there was a lot of tension. When Dixon’s chasing you, you’d better hit your marks.”
Dixon will have one more 250-lap race from Iowa Speedway tomorrow which kicks off from 12.30 pm NZT.
|10||Takuma Sato||-1 lap|
|11||Alex Palou||-1 lap|
|12||Graham Rahal||-2 laps|
|13||Santino Ferrucci||-3 laps|
|14||Felix Rosenqvist||-3 laps|
|15||Ed Carpenter||-3 laps|
|16||Ryan Hunter-Reay||-3 laps|
|17||Charlie Kimball||-5 laps|
|18||Tony Kanaan||-37 laps|
|19||Colton Herta||-94 laps|
|20||Rinus VeeKay||-94 laps|
|21||Will Power||-108 laps|
|22||Marco Andretti||-122 laps|
|23||Zach Veach||-155 laps|