Could Iowa Win Propel Hunter-Reay To Title?
INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Hunter-Reay has experienced the exhilaration of a dominating race victory in his Indy car career and now the sensation of “stealing one.”
Hunter-Reay set Indy car records for most and consecutive race laps led and laps led by a race winner when he led all 250 laps of a Champ Car-sanctioned event in Milwaukee on June 5, 2004, for his second career victory.
He led the final two laps to win the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB on July 12. His previous laps led low in a win was nine in earning his win in 2008 at Watkins Glen.
Tony Kanaan led a field-high 247 laps but couldn’t hold off Hunter-Reay, who pitted for fresh Firestone Firehawks on the No. 28 DHL car on lap 284 under caution. Hunter-Reay advanced nine positions in eight laps following the Lap 292 restart on the .894-mile, variably-banked oval – turning his fastest race lap of 179.405 mph on lap 296 – two laps before he overtook Kanaan’s No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
“I’ve learned in the years of experience that I’ve had in the Verizon IndyCar Series that you just have to keep your head in it,” said Hunter-Reay, who posted his third victory of the season. “No matter what, you have to charge hard and be ready for it. Whether it’s a street circuit, short oval, races can turn. We made the right call and we had the car that could take it.”
Kanaan’s tire degradation was pronounced as he dropped 2 mph each lap from 176.103 mph on lap 298 to 172.597 on lap 300. The hard-charging Josef Newgarden, who also was on fresh tires when he took the green flag on the final restart in 11th position, overtook Kanaan to tie his career best of second place for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. Kanaan, who has led a combined 325 laps in the past two races, earned his fifth consecutive podium finish at Iowa Speedway.