We saw just how much one caution in the middle of a pit sequence can flip a field. Last night, Josef Newgarden was well on his way to winning the first race of the twinbill at the Iowa Speedway. But, when his teammate (Will Power) crashed before Newgarden could pit for a second time of the race, it ruined any shot that he had at winning. It left him extremely frustrated.
On Saturday night, Newgarden didn’t run his pit sequences long to ensure that it didn’t happen again. But, a couple of cautions on Saturday could have did the same for a couple of others though.
On the first caution for Ed Carpenter finding the Turn 2 wall on Lap 112, Graham Rahal and Alex Palou hadn’t stopped yet. They were 14th and 16th respectively entering that pit sequence but now only two of nine drivers left on the lead lap at the time.
They pit with a few others on the lead lap under that caution and restarted fourth and eighth respectively. Where it helped them, it hurt someone like Conor Daly who was third on that pit sequence but was a lap down in 10th at the time of the caution.
Then, Ryan Hunter-Reay crashed exiting pit lane on Lap 178 and really negated that first yellow.
Daly, was back up to fifth at the time and with Oliver Askew and Alexander Rossi needing to pit still, he moved up to third. He was back where he was supposed to be. Unfortunately, he had to make one more stop still and would finish a disappointing 13th.
Palou, was back a lap down outside the top 10 too while Rahal was the biggest benefactor and stayed in the top five. He would finish an eye opening third for his 30th career podium.
That’s a long way from where he began the weekend. Rahal, was struggling mightily in practice on Friday. He was last on the speed chart, nearly 2 full mph from the car in front of him and seven mph off the lead. They chased their car in qualifying too as he’d start 21st and 19th respectively this weekend.
But, that caution helped him as he’d bring home a top 10 finish for the seventh time in the last 10 Iowa tries.
“Just hardwork,” Rahal said on how he ended up from the bottom of the speed charts on Friday to a podium result on Saturday. “It was a great showing today. It’s great for us to come away with a great result. We needed it. We needed a rebound. It was great for points. The car was great.”
Next up is Mid-Ohio, a place where Rahal has exceled at lately. He has six straight top 10 finishes on his home track including a win in 2015.
“Big race for me,” Rahal said. “I love going home. We’ve had great success. I think we found some great stuff the last time we raced on road courses. I expect our team to be extremely good.”
Rahal, is in a tie for fifth in the championship right now with Will Power and in a good spot to still contend for this year’s championship.
“I’m excited to go home,” Rahal continued. “We’re a contender this year. I think a lot of people have seen us improve. We’ve come a long way.”