NASCAR

Ryan Hunter-Reay captures last second win at Iowa Speedway

Celebrating a night race victory (©GettyImages)
Celebrating a night race victory (©GettyImages).

The Verizon IndyCar Racing Series, and Ryan Hunter-Reay, put on one heck of a show in Newton, Iowa on Saturday night for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB.

The Indy cars shared the race weekend with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on the Iowa short track that looks and feels like a super speedway. The race was dominated by Tony Kanaan but the driver from Andretti Autosport captured the lead with just two laps to go. Hunter-Reay also won at Iowa Speedway in back in the 2012 season.

On this past Saturday night Hunter-Reay drove the No. 28 DHL car from the tenth position on a Lap 292 restart to the front. The battle for the lead came against Josef Newgarden who was driving the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car. As the lead cars entered turns three and four the race winner would be anyone’s guess but Hunter-Reay took the checkered flag by the slim margin of 0.5814 of a second.

It was a close finish and Hunter-Reay said he would take the win no matter how close it was. The team has been a contender several times this season and returning to Iowa Speedway came at a perfect time. It was the fifth consecutive victory at Iowa for the Andretti Autosport team. In addition the Andretti organization has won six of the eight races on the 0.894-mile high-speed oval.

"We stole it today but I'll take it any way we can get it," Andretti said. "We've lost many that way. It was a day we probably weren't supposed to win, but, like I said, we'll take it any way we can get it."

Kanaan, who started second behind the wheel of the No. 10 Target car for Chip Ganassi Racing, led an amazing number of laps during the race and seemed to have the event locked up. He led 247 of the race's 300 laps but the car seemed to slip away during the closing laps under the lights. Despite some powerful driving he couldn't keep in front of Newgarden and eventually Hunter-Reay.

"It's such a shame because we dominated the race," said Kanaan, who won the race in 2010 and finished on the podium each of the past five years at Iowa Speedway. "To win races we have to run up front, so we'll take the third place and go to Toronto. I don't think I left anything out there today."

The key events happened during late-race pit stop for tires. The stop helped to move Hunter-Reay, the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner, to Iowa Speedway’s victory lane. The move for tires proved to be the correct one and the winner driver credited his team and owner.

"That was crazy. We took the tires as a big gamble and credit to (race engineer) Ray Gosselin and (race strategist/team owner) Michael Andretti for making that call," said Hunter-Reay, whose two laps led were the first since he won the Indianapolis 500. "That was fun. It was like a video game at the end. We had a tough day, but you have to keep your head in it in the Verizon IndyCar Series."

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