James Hinchcliffe took an emotional victory in the Iowa Corn 300 after passing long time leader Josef Newgarden and surviving a late race caution scare
Hinchcliffe had started in 11th whilst the Indy 500 winner Will Power started on pole, alongside Penske teammate Josef Newgarden and ahead of Andretti’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and the final Penske of Simon Pagenaud. Power lead the opening stages but as the two leaders encountered traffic, Newgarden scythed past his teammate and looked set to dominate as he assumed total control of the race. Meanwhile Hinchcliffe started to rapidly climb through the field and he soon found himself in second place and leading the hunt for Newgarden. Hinchcliffe did close up at times during the first stint through traffic but Newgarden was able to control the pace and keep the Schmidt Peterson car at bay.
The race had caution free throughout the first stint but the first of two came when Zach Veach hit the wall out of the final corner and damaged his suspension. This allowed all those a lap down to get that lap back and put the top five close together again, which feature Newgarden and Hinchcliffe with Spencer Pigot and Takuma Sato having great races in third and fourth ahead of Hunter-Reay. At the restart however Pigot got a great run on Hinchcliffe and got past the Canadian, but Hinchcliffe fought back a few laps later to repass the Ed Carpenter Racing machine and set off after Newgarden. His charge was again threatened later on in the stint as he got closer to the Penske, he had a huge wobble which allowed Sato up into second just prior to the final stops. Hinchcliffe was one of the first to stop for the last time and emerged behind Pigot again but he made light work of the young American, and once again went chasing after Newgarden.
With 40 laps to go he had closed right up to the race leader and as Newgarden was stuck behind teammate Power, Hinchcliffe made his move and forced his way through with a brilliant pass and he instantly pulled away, so much so it completely baffled Newgarden who said on the radio “where did Hinch come from?”. Newgarden threatened somewhat through traffic but Hinchcliffe had it covered. Meanwhile teammate Robert Wickens had fought his way up into third place and was on for yet another podium, before Ed Carpenter spun round and then got straightened up by Takuma Sato, who himself had dropped to fifth in the final pitstops. This brought out the second caution with just seven laps to go, and the opportunity to pit for fresh tyres and charge to the front arose. Newgarden and Wickens stopped, but Hinchcliffe, Pigot and Sato did not and it proved to be the right call. The race ended under caution, which meant Newgarden dropped to fourth and Wickens to fifth, Pigot taking his first ever IndyCar podium and Sato his first since he won the Indy 500 in 2017. Hinchcliffe then was able to cruise home and take an emotional and hugely impressive win, exactly what he and his team needed following the debacle of not qualifying for the Indy 500.
Newgarden could take some solace in that he beat teammate Power who finished 6th, Power missing his call to box three times in the first stint and having a tough day from pole, whilst fellow rivals Scott Dixon, Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi had nightmare races. Rossi finished two laps down in tenth after bad tyre wear and a stuck throttle cost him at his first stop after initially challenging Pagenaud for fourth at the start. Hunter-Reay meanwhile was classified 19th but was not running following a mechanical issue and Dixon had no pace whatsoever, struggling to a 12th place finish and four laps down on Hinchcliffe.