IndyCar – Iowa Indy 250: A Happy Day in Hinchtown

indycar-2013-iowa-hinchcliffe-victoryIt’s not been a good run for Canadian mayors lately. The Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, is in the middle of a scandal over an alleged video of him smoking crack. Corruption has resulted in a revolving door in the mayor’s offices of Montreal and its suburbs. However, in the lovely city of Hinchtown, all is well this weekend after the mayor, James Hinchcliffe, won his third IndyCar race of the season and first on an oval after dominating the Iowa 250.

The Iowa race had the unique heat race qualifying format for the second straight year. I’d comment on them but they weren’t on Canadian TV and I couldn’t find them streamed online. Call that my comment on the IndyCar TV contract this week. It would be nice if we could have seen those at some point apart from a 30-second highlight package on the ABC broadcast.

Anyway, Helio Castroneves absolutely dominated the single-car qualifying and the heat race but didn’t start on pole after his ten-place grid penalty for an engine change. That put Will Power up front for a second oval race this season. Unfortunately for him, his luck on ovals hasn’t gotten any better.

indycar-2013-iowa-start-hinchcliffe-powerPower didn’t even lead the first lap. It was James Hinchcliffe, who started 2nd despite the fact that he wasn’t happy with his car during Saturday’s heat races, who took the lead on Lap 1. Then he only relinquished the lead for green flag pitstops and one lap when Graham Rahal nosed ahead on the restart. I’d like to say it was an exciting race up front but Hinch led 226 of 250 laps en route to a dominant victory.

That’s not to say there wasn’t some good racing. Hinchcliffe and Rahal went two-wide for a couple of laps on a restart. Ryan Hunter-Reay bounced up and down the field all day. He started 12th, climbed forward, fell to 21st after losing part of his front wing on Rahal’s car before battling back to finish 2nd. Rahal, himself, quickly climbed his way up the field by using the outside the lane.

indycar-2013-iowa-rhr-hinchcliffe-kanaan-podiumThe win was Hinch’s third of the season which gives him the most in the series so far. Not too bad for a guy who came into the season without a win in his career. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s charge through the field ended in 2nd which moved him to 9 points behind Castroneves for the points lead. Coincidentally, Castroneves’ win in the heat races was worth nine points. Tony Kanaan continued his runs on the ovals by completing the podium.

Ed Carpenter used a slightly alternate strategy that saw him make his pit stops later than most other drivers. The fresh tires allowed for a late charge to 4th. Graham Rahal’s tires fell off late which saw him fall from 2nd to 5th in the final stint. Simon Pagenaud had another strong oval performance with a 6th. Oriol Servia’s second run in the Panther #4 was far better than Texas as he crossed the line 7th. Helio Castroneves ran as high as 3rd but could only manage 8th as his car wasn’t as good on Sunday as it was earlier in the weekend. The remaining two Andretti cars of Marco Andretti and EJ Viso rounded out the top ten in 9th and 10th, respectively.

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I looks like IndyCar could be adding a second race in Wisconsin to the calendar starting next season. Last week, the president of Road America told the press that he has been in contact with IndyCar as far back as April in an attempt to bring open-wheel racing back to the amazing road course.

champcar-2004-road-americaRoad America would like the race to be in September with a preference of running on Labour Day weekend. Currently, that weekend is occupied by the Baltimore street race. In the recent past, Champ Car ran Road America in August. The 2013 IndyCar schedule has a three-week gap between races in August and an empty five-week period in September. I’m sure the series would be happy to fill-in those spaces next season.

It’s unlikely that the addition of a Road America race would affect the Milwaukee Mile race despite the hour’s drive between the two venues. No objections came out of Andretti Promotions last year when rumours popped up suggesting a 2013 return to Elkhart Lake so I would doubt that there would be any objections for 2014 as long as a gap is maintained between the two races.

By the way, negotiations have started between Andretti and IndyCar to extend the race sanctioning agreement for the Milwaukee race. Next year is the final of the initial three-year deal to run at the Mile. Currently, IndyCar and Milwaukee are working on a long-term deal to keep open-wheel at the historic oval with a possibility of returning the race to its traditional post-Indy 500 weekend.

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indycar-pocono-promo-photoThe stars of IndyCar finally get a weekend off next week. They’ve been going for the last eight-straight weekends since the start the Sao Paulo race, through Indy 500 practice and the last five races. So that means we have to wait two weeks for the next race which is the series’ return to Pocono for the second race of the Triple Crown.

Unlike the other races in the Triple Crown, the Pocono race is only 400 miles. I doubt this will make the race any less exciting, though. Who will win this race is a bit of a craps shoot since open-wheel cars haven’t been to the tricky triangle since 1989. If you’re looking for favourites, I’d keep my eyes on Ed Carpenter, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves who have all looked strong on ovals this season.

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