Simon Pagenaud came from last to first to win Friday nights Iowa 250 at the Iowa Speedway.
Pagenaud, saved enough fuel to stretch his Speedway gas until the end to earn his first career victory on the 7/8 mile oval as well as his 15th of his NTT INDYCAR Series pole.
On Friday afternoon, he had an issue before he was even able to pull out of pit lane to qualify for both INDYCAR races this weekend at the Iowa Speedway.
In a rare but unique scenario, INDYCAR had a format this weekend of Lap 1 in Quals being to set the field for tonight’s race and Lap 2 for Saturday nights.
Without being able to make a lap, Pagenaud will start last (23rd) for both races.
But, like he did at Indy, he quickly moved up. By Lap 11, he was already up to 15th.
Then, after what he described as a disheartening qualifying effort, there he was up near front after the first pit sequence.
Then, his teammate Will Power crashed with 108 laps-to-go and caught his other teammate Josef Newgarden a lap down.
Pagenaud and others had yet to pit and that was the winning move.
Pagenaud, pit under caution which allowed him to save enough fuel following the frightening Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay crash to hold off Scott Dixon by 0.495 seconds in earning his first podium of his career in Iowa.
Pagenaud also qualified 20th for the road course race at Indy. He’d finish third. He qualified 17th and 22nd respectively in the twinbill last weekend in Road America and finish outside the top 10 in both as a result. Now, he’s back up to second in the standings (-50).
Dixon lucked into a runner up for the second straight year in Iowa. He started 17th and like Pagenaud, didn’t pit before Power’s crash.
He was lapped by Newgarden on Lap 67 and here he is finishing second for his fourth top two result of the year.
Rookie Oliver Askew finished third in his No. 7 Chevrolet while his teammate Pato O’Ward was fourth.
Newgarden rounded out the top five in his No. 1 Chevrolet.
Andretti Autosport Struggles Again
In the early years of the NTT INDYCAR Series’ trips to Iowa, Andretti Autosport was the team to beat. In seven of the first nine years, they won the race outright.
Andretti also had 13 podiums and 688 laps led in that time frame too. But, over the last five years now, the team has led just seven laps and taken one podium.
Friday nights race was more frustrations. Colton Herta started strong but after a rough first pit stop, he never rebounded. Then, he had a frightening crash and finish 19th.
Marco Andretti and Zach Veach both also had problems on their opening stops with issues with their clutches. They’d finish 22nd and 23rd in the race.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was never a factor in 16th (-3 laps) while Alexander Rossi was their top finisher in sixth.
Herta falls fifth in the standings (-83) while RHR (-118) and Rossi (-119) are 12th and 13th respectively.
Power’s Rough 2020 Continues
Will Power said he was confident heading into this weekends doubleheader at Iowa. He felt like he had fast cars, just bad luck this season.
Unfortunately, that rang true on Friday night.
Power, qualified his No. 12 Chevrolet third and was running in the top two near the midway point but his left front tire changer didn’t tighten his tire following his second stop of the race.
Power, crashed in Turn 4 shortly after as a result. He’d finish 21st.
“I just took off straight into the wall,” said Power. “Not a good feeling. Unbelievable. So, so, so frustrating. Unbelievable.”
Last weekend in Road America, he had a fast car but had the wrong gearing in Race 1. In Race 2, he was collected in several crashes.
A week prior in Indy, he started on the pole, led a ton of laps, but was on the wrong end of pit strategy after the Oliver Askew’s crash the stalled in pit road.
His finishes are – 13th, 20th, 2nd, 11th and 21st respectively. They’re 112 points out now.
Does this eventually cost Power his ride?
Aeroscreen Saves Lives Friday
The 46 pound Aeroscreen device saved some lives on Friday. First off, Will Power’s left front tire wasn’t tightened up on his pit stop and literally fell off following a crash in Turn 4. While sliding down the track after contact with the wall, the tire nearly hit Power’s cockpit.
Then, on the ensuing restart, Colton Herta didn’t know that it was actually waved off. He ran over the back of rookie Rinus Veekay’s car coming to the start/finish line and got airborne.
While the climb happened, he ran over VeeKay’s Aeroscreen and made some major air over the SAFER barrier.
“I’m very happy with the safety,” VeeKay would later say after being uninjured. “The Aeroscreen was destroyed. Very thankful for INDYCAR and their safety.”
Herta, says he never was told the restart was waved off.
“It happened so fast I didn’t really know what was going on,” Herta said. “I wasn’t told the restart was waved off. I was told green. I guess everyone else got the message.”
With debris flying everywhere, a piece hit Marcus Ericsson’s Aeroscreen.
In a few laps, the new safety device showed why its there. It potentially saved four lives.
Power’s Crash Shakes Up Championship, Leaves Newgarden Furious
Scott Dixon looked like the man to beat for this years championship early. He won each of the first three races and held a commanding lead in the points. But, following a bad final stop in the last race at Road America, then a rough qualifying effort on Friday in Iowa, the door was back open for the championship. Key word there “was.”
Dixon, entered this weekend with a 54 point lead over Colton Herta, 63 points over Simon Pagenaud and Pato O’Ward both and 67 more markers over Newgarden in fifth.
But, this is Iowa and Dixon has struggled here. He’s 0-for-13 and on the 7/8 mile track and didn’t look much better on Friday.
He qualified his No. 9 Honda 17th and by Lap 67 was a lap down. Meanwhile, Newgarden looked like his old Iowa self in dominating. Herta, had a bad first pit stop but still solidly in the top 10. So was Pagenaud who came from last to be in the top five.
Then, the pair of crashes during the second to last pit sequence halted that shake up.
Will Power’s left front tire was never tightened. He crashed with 108 to go as a result. 10 cars had yet to pit and Pagenaud and Dixon were two of them. Newgarden, wasn’t.
Newgarden was pinned a lap down and only rebounded to fifth with the best car out there. Herta, crashed out in a frightening incident on the ensuing restart.
Pagenaud and Dixon held on for a 1-2 instead.
Dixon’s lead only shrunk by just four due to that.
“I’m so angry about how this all transpired,” Newgarden said of how this race transpired. “That caution was the nail in the coffin. We had the car to beat tonight. Hands down. Some of it is just bad luck. That caution, you weigh out the pros and cons of trying to go long or short on your pit windows. I can’t fault my guys. I had a rocket ship.
“Look all you can do is move forward. This is racing. Some days the racing Gods shine down on your and some days they don’t. Today, they definitely didn’t. You have to take the good days when they shine down on you and accept the bad days when they don’t. We have to stop giving these guys layups. That’s what’s happening.”
Dixon, lucked out from a caution last year and finished second. He did it again, as he’s only led three laps at Iowa since 2015 but has three podiums in that time frame still and holds a commanding lead still when the door was opened again. He slightly closed it back up but does only start 18th on Saturday while Newgarden rolls off on the pole.
“I want to drink whatever Kool Aid Dixon is drinking,” said Conor Daly. “Oh my goodness.”
Arrow McLaren SP Group Shines Again
Pato O’Ward has been stellar this year. He should have won last Sunday’s race in Road America. Instead, he finished second. He was also 12th in the season opener in Texas followed by a pair of eighth place finishes in Indy and Road America 1 after.
On Friday night, he finished fourth and now is only 70 points out from the points lead in third.
His teammate Oliver Askew brought his No. 7 Chevrolet home on the podium for his second top 10 of the year. He was ninth in Texas.
Two straight podiums for this group.
Ericsson/Sato Quietly Running Well
Scott Dixon is steakhnv all the headlines right now but look at what his teammate is doing. Yes, Felix Rosenqvist won last weekend in Road America, but their other teammate in Marcus Ericsson is quietly having a good year.
He finished with another top 10 on Friday night for his fourth straight on the year. Another driver like that is Takuma Sato who also has four consecutive top 10 finishes as well.
A pole sitter has still never won this race as they’re 0-for-14 now. Newgarden starts on pole on Saturday night. Will that streak end?