Andretti seals first victory in five years
26 June 2011 – Marco Andretti triumphed for the first time in just under five years at the Iowa Speedway on Saturday evening, edging out former team-mate Tony Kanaan by seven tenths of a second at the chequered flag. The lead changed on numerous occasions over the course of the final few laps, with Kanaan ultimately having to settle for second ahead of Scott Dixon who completed the podium after starting from 23rd on the grid.
Pole-sitter Takuma Sato held onto his lead as the race got underway, but only seven laps went by before reigning Champion Dario Franchitti made his way to the top. The Scot settled into a rhythm in the early stages, before the first neutralization occurred after 22 laps when James Jakes hit the wall at Turn 2. Will Power and Charlie Kimball opted to pit behind the Safety Car, but collided and lost time to the leading pack.
The situation got worse for Power as he made significant contact with the Turn 2 exit wall, forcing him out of the race with 161 laps remaining. Mike Conway, Ana Beatriz, Sebastian Saavedra and Sato would all do the same later in the race, with the latter making his exit a long way into the second half of the race. A quick pit-stop enabled Andretti to steal the lead from Franchitti, but the fight was still on for victory.
Kanaan duly joined the pair up front, overtaking Franchitti after a caution period, before setting about stealing the win from Andretti. Following a fine display up front, Andretti came out on top and took the win ahead of Kanaan. Panther Racing’s J.R. Hildebrand grabbed fourth from of Franchitti in the final stages, backing up third place man Dixon.
Ryan Briscoe was the best-placed Penske driver in sixth, finishing the race just in front of team-mate Hélio Castroneves. Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe were next up, while second place starter Danica Patrick completed the top ten. Franchitti now leads the championship by 20 points ahead of Power, with fifth place enough to take substantial advantage of his rival’s retirement.
Round 9 of the championship will be staged at the Toronto Street Circuit in a fortnight’s time