Hinchcliffe Wins at Iowa Under Yellow

James Hinchcliffe corners around Iowa Speedway
James Hinchcliffe found comfort in his No. 5 Honda on race day at the 2018 Iowa Corn 300, allowing him to execute daring passes throughout the race. | Photo: Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media

James Hinchcliffe went back to victory lane after a drought of more than a year on the strength of speed and skill at Iowa Speedway where just five cars finished on the lead lap.

Hinchcliffe started the race in the 11th position and had advanced into the top five following just eight minutes of racing. After passing Ryan Hunter-Reay for third and pole sitter Will Power for second, he chased leader Josef Newgarden for more than 200 laps before finally taking the lead.

James Hinchcliffe displays Canada flag after Iowa win
Canada’s James Hinchcliffe won at Iowa Speedway for the second time of his career, potentially sparking momentum entering his home race in Toronto. | Photo: Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media

In a record-setting race that saw the fewest cautions — and caution laps — for a Verizon IndyCar Series event at the 0.894-mile oval, Hinchcliffe took control of the 300-lap contest on Lap 256.

Despite a late caution on Lap 294 that threatened to undo Hinchcliffe’s late-race surge, the yellow flag stayed out through the completion of the race handing the victory to the driver of the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.

With his win under caution, scored as a 2.6492-second advantage, Hinchcliffe earned the sixth win of his Indy car career and seventh for his team. With his last win coming on the streets of Long Beach in 2017, Hinchcliffe’s Iowa victory ends a 26-race winless streak for the Canadian driver. The achievement also marked the second win at Iowa after his triumph with Andretti Autosport at the track in 2013.

Spencer Pigot finished in the second position — a career best in IndyCar for the full-time driver of Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet. Pigot ran well throughout the race, reaching the top five early and showing speed and maturity as he passed veterans like Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud on his march forward from his 18th-place starting position.

Hunter-Reay's Andretti crew completes Iowa pit stop
Championship hopeful Ryan Hunter-Reay finished 19th at Iowa in a challenging day for himself and points leader Scott Dixon. | Photo: Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media

In his best finish since winning last year’s Indianapolis 500, Takuma Sato brought Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s No. 30 Honda to the finish line in the third position. Sato featured in the top five in the final two-thirds of the race.

Newgarden, who took tires during the Lap 294 caution in anticipation of a two-lap shootout for the race win, dropped to fourth in the final order when the yellow flag stayed out instead. Robert Wickens, the highest-finishing rookie, also took tires and finished behind Newgarden in the fifth position.

Power’s determination to stay on the lead lap helped Hinchcliffe get around Newgarden, and caused the Australian to finish the race one lap down in sixth. Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud, Ed Carpenter and Alexander Rossi completed the top 10 with Honda and Chevrolet splitting the group evenly.

The fastest race in Iowa Speedway history — Hinchcliffe averaged 149.636 mph thanks to the amount of green-flag running — had only two retirements. Gabby Chaves completed 99 laps before his team decided to park the No. 88 Chevrolet over handling issues. Matheus Leist, who crashed in practice on Friday, turned just 40 laps before leaving the race with a mechanical issue.

Despite a 12th-place finish, Scott Dixon retains the points lead over Newgarden by a margin of 33 markers entering the final street race of the season, set for July 15 in Hinchcliffe’s hometown of Toronto.

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