NEWTON, Iowa – Alexander Rossi was making his Iowa Speedway debut while Tony Kanaan was becoming one of four drivers to continue his streak of starting all 10 Iowa Verizon IndyCar Series races.
Their two worlds collided around the halfway mark in the Iowa Corn 300, when Rossi ran high coming off Turn 2 and nearly collected Kanaan. Rossi was a lap down while Kanaan was sixth at the time.
Kanaan, on the radio, was less than pleased with the moment at the 0.894-mile bullring.
The drivers of the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda and No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet ended sixth and seventh, respectively, but after chaotic races to get there.
Rossi made it up to sixth late after getting back on the lead lap, although he’d ran outside the top 10 for most of the day.
Kanaan, meanwhile, was caught out on a yellow flag, lost two laps and finished a lap down.
We spoke to both drivers after the race to get their respective sides of the stories. As you’ll note in the picture, they spoke after the race on their own.
“Yeah, that was my bad, I need to go talk to him, for sure,” Rossi told NBC Sports. “The low line had been fine for me and on that lap, I got down there and I guess the marbles had built up. When I passed him on the inside, the front just took off. I was immediately on the radio, saying sorry. That was definitely 100 percent on me.
“He apologized, I think,” Kanaan told NBC Sports. “On a short track like that, that’s the way it is. I don’t think it was necessary because it wasn’t even for position. At that time, he was a lap down. But I can see what happened, it could have happened to anybody. Obviously, you can’t avoid it. It is what it is. The good side is none of us crashed, so it could have been a lot worse.”
Rossi, who now adds this sixth place to his famous win at the 100th Indianapolis 500 and a hard luck 14th at Phoenix, has noted his increase in comfort level – although he noted racing at the fellow short oval of Phoenix bore no similarities to Iowa. He also led four laps from Laps 61 to 64, running longer on the first stint.
“This is a whole different ballgame. That’s the beauty of this championship,” Rossi said. “Every track is different. I guess what was different for me from Phoenix is I wasn’t scared s***less on Lap 1!”
Kanaan, who led both practices and was unlucky to end only seventh, rued his lost opportunity.
“To get caught in the pits like that, it is what it is. It’s the same for everybody,” Kanaan said. “I like to go racing and then you get caught and are two laps down just because came into the pits on a different strategy, I guess.
“It’s not fair, but all in all, we didn’t have a car to win today. Newgarden was the class of the field, but I think we had a car to finish in the top three, for sure. We battled with (Scott) Dixon and Will (Power) all day, but when we went two laps down, my day was over.”
Unofficially Kanaan is sixth, Rossi seventh in the points standings – so their championship positions are nearly perfect reflections of where they sit overall.