During Saturday’s IndyCar race in Iowa I was surprised to hear that the title sponsor ‘Iowa Corn’ provides the teams with the methanol used to fuel the cars, prompting the very patriotic tagline “Our State. Our Fields. Our Race.” As it turned out American motorsport was about to witness a 1-2-3-4 sweep, making it very much a case of American drivers, using American fuel, winning on American soil.
2012 IndyCar series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay took what is now Andretti Autosport’s sixth victory out of the eight races that has been held at the event since its debut in 2007, and believe it or not his first race win of the year. He was joined by Josef Newgarden, who is fast becoming the “one to watch” in the IndyCar space. After two second places and a pole position at Milwaukee, one has to question whether it could’ve been four wins rather than two for Josef Newgarden at this stage, who has no doubt utilised the experience from team co-owner Ed Carpenter to improve his position on ovals.
Speaking of, Carpenter was more than less impressed with third-placed man Sage Karam after the race. The Indy Lights graduate was confronted by the angry team co-owner to former driver Sarah Fisher, after Karam forced the issue on a number of overtakes during the closing stages of the race on new tyres.
Admittedly it looked like Karam went over the limit a couple of times out there in terms of what is and isn’t acceptable going side-by-side at 200mph-plus, but you have to admire his courage after the race when he said: “This isn’t go-karts anymore, we race each other hard” in response to Carpenters qualm. However he later got some comeuppance in the fact that Karam wasn’t given champagne on his maiden podium, due to him being under the legal drinking age.
But perhaps the biggest triumph of that race came from Graham Rahal, who after battling with a puncture that put him two laps down and gearbox problems 90 laps into the race, he still managed to get back onto the lead lap and harness the pace of his Honda-powered Dallara into a top five finish.
This proved to be quite a crucial position, after championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya crashed with a suspension problem early on and Scott Dixon had to take to the garage with drive train issues, allowing Rahal to jump up to second in the points table 42 points down the Indy 500 winner – which when you consider there is double points on offer for the final race, blows this championship right open with just three races to go.
I’ve said before how IndyCar is becoming the best racing package in the world, and after last weeks double-header I can only echo those sentiments. Bourdais’ late surge to victory in Milwaukee was utterly sensational – even if the car was overweight due to this after-race donuts. Ryan Briscoe has also surprised on his return to the series, standing in for the recovering James Hinchcliffe who suffered life-threatening injuries during Indy 500 practice two months ago.
The series next hits Mid-Ohio for the penultimate street-course race, before a final oval event in Pocono, and the season finale in Sonoma – which thankfully is getting pushed forward to October next year.