IndyCar: Ryan Hunter-Reay wins in wild dash to finish at Iowa (VIDEO)

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A late gamble gave Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport yet another jackpot at Iowa Speedway.

The reigning Indianapolis 500 winner took fresh tires under the last caution of tonight’s Iowa Corn Indy 300, and he was able to get everything he could out of them after the final restart with nine laps to go.

Picking off positions one-by-one, Hunter-Reay finally surged past Tony Kanaan for the lead with two laps left and went on to earn his third Verizon IndyCar Series win of the year – and the fifth consecutive IndyCar triumph at Iowa for the Andretti team.

“We took the tires as a big gamble,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN in Victory Lane. “Our tires were shot before that, so we took ’em – and, credit to [engineer] Ray Gosselin and [team owner] Michael Andretti for making that call because I didn’t think we’d have enough time.

“…That was really great. Man, that was fun. That was like a video game at the end, it was just shredding through it. The DHL Honda was just on fire at the end.”

The win also boosts Hunter-Reay’s championship hopes with six races remaining in the season. He now moves to third in the standings at 32 points behind new leader Helio Castroneves, who finished eighth to take a nine-point lead over Will Power heading into next weekend’s doubleheader at Toronto.

Also charging hard in the last dash to the finish was Josef Newgarden, who pitted for tires with Hunter-Reay. He took the restart in 11th, but like Hunter-Reay, he rocketed toward the front and ultimately finished about six-tenths of a second behind the former series champion.

“That was the weirdest experience I’ve had in a race,” Newgarden said. “It’s almost unfair. You put on new tires like that and you just have so much more grip than everybody.

“It was a great call and I knew it was going to be an interesting race because Graham [Rahal] and Ryan [Hunter-Reay] had done it in front of me – and I thought, ‘If this is gonna play out, it’s going to be between us.’ And Ryan got a good jump, and I got a good jump with him, and we kept carving up to the top.”

Meanwhile, Kanaan was left wanting again after putting together a dominant performance. Last weekend at Pocono, he led the most laps but a late fuel strategy did not go his way.

In Iowa, he again led the most laps – 247 in all. But instead of celebrating his first win as a member of Chip Ganassi Racing, he finished third.

“It’s one of those things,” Kanaan shrugged. “They took a gamble. It’s a shame because we dominated the race. I had a lot of fun. But what can I do?”

Kanaan’s teammate Scott Dixon finished fourth, followed by Ed Carpenter in fifth. However, the owner/driver’s night was not without controversy as he was involved in the incident that provided the last caution of the night.

With 19 laps remaining, Carpenter appeared to come down in Turn 3 as Pocono winner Juan Pablo Montoya tried to look on the inside for a pass. Montoya then went briefly below the yellow line before sliding up into the wall to bring out the yellow.

However, INDYCAR chose to take no action in regards to penalties against Carpenter.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES AT IOWA – IOWA CORN INDY 300
Official Results
Order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, team-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (13) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti-Honda, 300, Running
2. (21) Josef Newgarden, SFHR-Honda, 300, Running
3. (2) Tony Kanaan, Ganassi-Chevy, 300, Running
4. (1) Scott Dixon, Ganassi-Chevy, 300, Running
5. (10) Ed Carpenter, ECR-Chevy, 300, Running
6. (14) James Hinchcliffe, Andretti-Honda, 300, Running
7. (15) Graham Rahal, Rahal-Honda, 300, Running
8. (3) Helio Castroneves, Penske-Chevy, 300, Running
9. (4) Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi-Chevy, 300, Running
10. (7) Charlie Kimball, Ganassi-Chevy, 300, Running
11. (11) Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt-Honda, 300, Running
12. (5) Carlos Munoz, Andretti-Honda, 300, Running
13. (18) Justin Wilson, Coyne-Honda, 300, Running
14. (9) Will Power, Penske-Chevy, 300, Running
15. (20) Jack Hawksworth, Herta-Honda, 296, Running
16. (19) Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske-Chevy, 280, Contact
17. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, KV/AFS-Chevy, 258, Mechanical
18. (8) Marco Andretti, Andretti-Honda, 229, Mechanical
19. (6) Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH-Chevy, 130, Mechanical
20. (22) Carlos Huertas, Coyne-Honda, 78, Driver Illness
21. (12) Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt-Honda, 47, Contact
22. (16) Takuma Sato, Foyt-Honda, 47, Contact

Race Statistics:
Winners average speed: 131.923
Time of Race: 02:01:58.8160
Margin of victory: 0.5814
Cautions: 7 for 68 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Dixon 1
Kanaan 2 – 42
Castroneves 43 – 76
Kanaan 77 – 247
Dixon 248 – 263
Kanaan 264 – 297
Hunter-Reay 299 – 300

Point Standings: Castroneves 471, Power 462, Hunter-Reay 439, Pagenaud 421, Montoya 405, Munoz 358, Andretti 337, Dixon 331, Briscoe 307, Kanaan 305.

Mercedes, Ferrari go conservative on Austrian GP tire picks

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Pirelli has confirmed all 20 Formula 1 drivers’ tire picks for next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, with most opting to stack up on ultra-softs.

As it does for every grand prix, Pirelli will bring three compounds to Austria next week, electing for the softest possible combination of ultra-soft, super-soft and soft tires.

In the regular pre-race release of each driver’s tire picks, Pirelli revealed that Force India, McLaren and Red Bull have gone down the most aggressive routes, stacking up on the ultra-soft tire.

Title contenders Mercedes and Ferrari have gone down a more conservative route, favoring additional sets of the super-soft compound.

Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will take seven sets of ultra-softs to Spielberg, while Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will have eight sets at their disposal through the weekend.

Graham Rahal survives Road America to finish eighth

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Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing faced a roller coaster of a race during the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America on Sunday.

He was a rocket off the initial start, jumping from sixth on the grid up to fourth exiting turn 1, but was almost immediately ordered to surrender a position for blocking. He quickly slipped back to sixth, and then began plummeting down the order as he battled an oversteer condition that saw his car chew through its rear tires more quickly than others.

Forced to abandon the planned three-stop strategy, he and the No. 15 Gehl Honda team switched to a four-stop plan that saw him drop well outside the top ten at times.

However, they kept plugging away and rebounded nicely in the second half of the race to eventually finish in eighth. While he would have liked to finish higher up the order, Rahal knows that he and the team got everything they could out of it.

“The car was a handful today. I knew about five laps in that I didn’t have the pace for a three-stop strategy,” Rahal revealed post-race. “We tried as best we could to work with what we had during the race and overcome it. I would have obviously liked to have finished better, but eighth is about as good as we could do today. We struggled with a very loose race car all weekend and just couldn’t put a dent in the problem. We worked awfully hard but just missed it this weekend.”

The eighth-place finish keeps Rahal in the championship hunt. Rahal now sits seventh in the standings, 11 points behind fifth-place Josef Newgarden and 72 behind championship leader Scott Dixon.

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Ed Jones continues steady run with seventh at Road America

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Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones has made waves in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season with a string of solid performances that belie his rookie status.

And Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix at Road America was no different.

The 22-year-old battled an oversteering car most of the weekend at Road America, and had to navigate a little carnage late in the race as Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay both fell through the field with front wing problems.

However, Jones weathered all storms to finish an impressive seventh, his fifth finish inside the top 10 this year, and his best finish since his third place at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade MotorOil.

“It was a really tough race,” Jones said of the effort. “We had a loose car yesterday. It was loose, but fast, for qualifying, and today again the car was really loose. I was hanging on the whole race, but the team had some good pit stops and we were able to move up.

“Obviously, the strategy was pretty similar to everyone else. Everyone was aggressive out there. It was hard racing but we came out with a seventh place and we moved up a little bit in the points.”

The seventh-place run sees Jones maintain his position in the top ten in the championship. He currently sits tenth in the standings, three points ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton.

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Vilander replaces Bird at AF Corse for Nurburgring WEC round

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AF Corse has confirmed that Toni Vilander will race the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE in next month’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at the Nürburgring in place of Sam Bird, who is tied up with Formula E commitments in New York.

Vilander currently races full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Risi Competizione, and appeared at the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks ago.

The Finn won the WEC GT drivers’ title in 2014 and last raced full-time in the series in 2015, but will return at the Nürburgring in place of Bird, who confirmed on Monday that he would be prioritizing his Formula E commitments on the July 16 weekend.

Vilander is relishing the opportunity to race alongside Davide Rigon in the No. 71 Ferrari, and is eager to bounce back from an early retirement at Le Mans.

“I’m happy to be able to return to the FIA WEC with the 488 GTE of AF Corse team. This is my chance to cancel the disappointment of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as soon as possible,” Vilander said.

“Car number 71 is in the top places of the championship standings, and I will give all I have to achieve the best possible result at Nürburgring, to help Ferrari in the manufacturers’ championship and Davide Rigon in the drivers’ ranking.”