Simon Pagenaud storms the field from last place to victory – Colton Herta unhurt thanks to Aeroscreen – Josef Newgarden celebrates first victory of the season
The IndyCar Series visited the Iowa Speedway on July 17-18, holding two races in one weekend, as it did a week earlier at Road America. Penske driver Simon Pagenaud, who was without a chance in qualifying due to a fuel pressure problem, made a fabulous recovery in the first race of the weekend.
Starting from 23rd and last place, the Frenchman won the Friday race ahead of championship leader Scott Dixon. Third place went equally sensational to rookie Oliver Askew from the newly formed Arrow McLaren SP team.
Askew’s team mate Pato O’Ward underlined the strong team result for Arrow McLaren SP with his fourth place, while the reigning champion Josef Newgarden, who had been unhappy with the start of the season, completed the top 5.
Pagenaud’s key to the brilliant recovery and subsequent victory was a bold fuel strategy and a bit of luck with a long caution phase in the last quarter of the race, which allowed him to finish the race without having to pit again.
Colton Herta unhurt thanks to Aeroscreen after dangerous airborne incident
The long caution that allowed Pagenaud’s fuel gamble to work was triggered by a fierce crash between Colton Herta and Dutchman Rinus VeeKay on lap 157. Will Power had crashed into the wall a few laps earlier and thus triggered a caution himself, squeezing the field together for the restart.
Colton Herta ran out of space at that restart, which was cancelled late by race control, and drove into the rear of VeeKay at high speed, causing Herta’s car to skid into the air and towards the catch fences.
Fortunately, the aeroscreen cockpit protection introduced this season passed its acid test, preventing the cockpit area and driver from being razored by the safety fence. Before the introduction of the aeroscreen, similar incidents led to life-threatening and fatal injuries for pilots like Robert Wickens or the unforgotten Dan Wheldon.
However, the two youngsters Herta and VeeKay got away with the fright and were both back on the grid on Saturday evening for race 2 at the Iowa Speedway.
Newgarden dominates and wins race 2
On Saturday evening, following a rather modest start to the new season, Josef Newgarden showed himself in impressive form and after 214 laps lead in the second Iowa race, he left nothing to be desired in his Penske. Starting from pole, the two-time champion showed a strong pace throughout the race and broke the “pole curse” at the Iowa Speedway with his victory.
Never before had an IndyCar driver managed to take victory there from pole. After his first victory of the season, Newgarden now hopes to have chances again to defend his championship title at the end of the year.
Will Power completed the one-two win and the perfect weekend for Penske with his second place ahead of Graham Rahal, who celebrated his second podium result this season. Fourth and fifth places went to previous day’s winners Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon.
Thanks to his consistent results, Dixon continues to comfortably lead the championship standings with 244 points, ahead of Simon Pagenaud (-49 points) and Josef Newgarden (-53 points).
On 9th August the IndyCar Series will once again return to a road course for the next round at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington.