These "boots" are made for winning, and that is what they did - Brit, Dan Weldon wins the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer at Iowa Speedway on direction from Chip Ganassi team's strategist, Barry Wanser. Happy 30th birthday Dan. Image credit: Andy Sallee (2008)
For T-Teams, Rookie Of The Year Slips A Notch In Iowa
A good and competitive race was held near the corn fields and flooding of Iowa. The race was won through pit stop timing and fuel strategy. Dan Weldon in the Target Chip Ganassi Dallara took the checkered flag on the day he turned 30 in front of an appreciative crowd looking for an escape from the acts of God tumult this region of the United States has suffered from in recent weeks.
Andretti Green's Hideki Mutoh as he enters the pits at Iowa Speedway. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2008)
After 8 of 18 races, Andretti Green Racing’s Hideki Mutoh begins to lock down rookie of the year honors in the IndyCar Series championship by holding on to second place next to his teammate in third, son of the owner of the Andretti Green Racing team, Marco Andretti. To a fan of the former ChampCar, this is a very disappointing trend. The rookies are almost all drivers who drive for teams that made their calling card carrying on for a racing series that raced on a different type and configuration of race track every weekend.
Transistion team driver Will Power of KV Racing Technology, finishes the highest position of the "Elite Eight" that qualified for the race. Here, he sits in the cockpit, control wheel on the deck, getting ready to get plugged in and go. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2008)
This was the fifth straight oval race in six weeks for the unified IRL drivers and, to be honest, the races are beginning to blend together. Cars try to run three (and maybe four) wide, tires in the open wheel cars almost touch (and sometimes do causing wrecks), suspension parts fail due to stresses of overloading the technology on tight lefthand corners sending cars into the outside wall, and at the end, the race will be won by one of three teams that have all the parts, back-up equipment, and teammates that will, hopefully, protect and keep them out of trouble.
Next week is the track at Richmond, Virginia … which is just a slightly shorter version of this track here in Iowa … but with a little less banking, will see more of the same. The twist for Richmond (just like they did in Texas) is that the race will be run at night in the glow of specialized lighting.
Unless the former ChampCar teams get an equalizing road course soon, and have five in a row to make things a little more even, this unification thing may begin to turn fans away, after all, there is still trouble getting all of the cars with sponsorship. Outside of the tradition a few oval tracks hold, the races play out pretty much the same no matter where one goes. There is not enough variation to really hold a rabid fans interest through the course of a whole season if every race has as its hallmark, higher banks, or shorter track, or the race will be held at night, or … this used to be a cornfield but now its an oval racetrack!
Helmet art of Dan Weldon. Depicts a knight slaying the competition ... as he did today on his 30th birthday at the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer at Iowa Speedway. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2008)
More about the “Corn Fed 250” (Iowa Corn Indy 250) excerpted and edited from Autosport.com –
Wheldon uses pit gamble to win Iowa
By Jeff Olson and Matt Beer Sunday, June 22nd 2008, 19:14 GMT
Dan Wheldon gambled on stretching his final fuel load for 90 laps and took an unlikely victory for Ganassi at Iowa Speedway, ahead of Andretti Green's Hideki Mutoh and Marco Andretti.
The Ganassi cars had not been a factor in the lead battle for most of the race, but the decision to leave Wheldon on track as most of the leaders pitted under a late yellow allowed the Briton to vault to the head of the field.
He then had to conserve fuel to make it to the finish - running 90 laps rather than the usual 75 on his last stint - but two further cautions in the closing stages allowed Wheldon and fellow fuel gamblers Mutoh and Danica Patrick to stretch their fuel mileage to the end.
Wheldon was running back in the pack when he and strategist Barry Wanser chose to keep the car out on the track while the leaders came to the pits on the 187th lap.
It appeared at the time as if Wheldon wouldn't be able to make it to the finish, but he received two huge assists - a yellow flag when Mario Moraes brushed the wall on a restart on the 197th lap and another when Tony Kanaan spun and hit the wall on the 211th lap.
Wheldon donated his winnings to relief programmes for victims of flooding in Iowa. Coupled with Scott Dixon's $15,000 for finishing fifth, Ganassi's drivers donated a total of $50,000 to disaster relief efforts.
Andretti was the highest finisher amongst those who made the extra pitstop, having jumped past Patrick and Dixon in a single move at the final restart before hunting down Wheldon and Mutoh.
He was unable to get around his rookie teammate, though, and had to settle for third, as Mutoh successfully managed to fend off Andretti while also trying to keep the pressure on Wheldon.
"I almost got by Wheldon at the end, but I didn't have the speed to overtake him," Mutoh said. This is the highest finish by a Japanese driver (in the IndyCar Series), so it's good news for Japan and for myself, too."
Despite these incidents, the race was a far cry from last year's crash-filled and processional inaugural Iowa event.
This time, the race featured six cautions for 57 laps, but 17 of the 24 starters were running at the end. The other significant yellow came when Ed Carpenter spun in Turn 2 on the 39th lap, then blamed Patrick for his accident.
"Danica did her normal supreme block job," Carpenter said. "She is the new Scott Sharp of the series, as far as I'm concerned. That is two races in a row. I'm over her."
KV Racing's Will Power and Newman/Haas/Lanigan's Graham Rahal completed the top ten.
John Andretti showed encouraging pace for the small Roth Racing team to run as high as seventh, while Justin Wilson (Newman/Haas/Lanigan) also occupied that position in the middle of the race, before both lost ground in the last stint.
How did the surviving eight drivers (of ten registered to compete) from teams that have transitioned from the CCWS?
POS./Qual./Car# - Driver - Hometown - Car - Name - Entrant
9/11/8 - Will Power - Toowoomba, Australia - Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia - KV Racing Technology
10/16/06 - Graham Rahal - Columbus, Ohio - Hole in the Wall Camps - Newman Haas Lanigan Racing
12/20/02 - Justin Wilson - Sheffield, England - McDonald's - Newman Haas Lanigan Racing
13/13/33 - EJ Viso - Caracas, Venezuela - PDVSA - HVM Racing
16/10/5 - Oriol Servia - Pals, Spain - KV Racing Technology - KV Racing Technology
17/17/36 - Enrique Bernoldi - Curitiba, Brazil - Sangari - Conquest Racing
19/24/19 - Mario Moraes - Sao Paulo, Brazil - Sonny's Bar-B-Q - Dale Coyne Racing
20/21/34 - Jaime Camara - Goiania, Brazil – Sangari - Conquest Racing
Bruno Junqueira of Dale Coyne Racing and Mario Moraes’s teammate hopes to have his damaged car ready for Richmond. No word at the time of this post if Pacific Coast Racing’s Mario Dominguez will make the show in Virginia.
If I were in the business of speculating, I’d say the chances are better than 50/50 that PCM may wait until Watkins Glen to rejoin the frey for the balance of the 2008 season, the week after the short oval at Richmond.
... notes from The EDJE