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Sunday, June 20, 2010

IndyCar Race Review: Iowa Corn Indy 250

Tony Kanaan ended a 34-race winless drought and Michael Andretti won his second race of the season after a winless 2009 as the IZOD IndyCar Series finished its first oval segment of the 2010 season with today's Iowa Corn Indy 250.

It was the 15th career open-wheel win for Kanaan, his first since Richmond in 2008, and the first time that the Brazilian did not suffer a race-ending accident in an Iowa event. He led 62 laps, holding the point for the first time since Chicago last year.

It also marked the second race win at Iowa for Andretti Autosport, and their first since the inaugural event in 2007 with Dario Franchitti. However, neither Franchitti nor the other Andretti cars had quite the same amount of success as Kanaan; Franchitti's transmission gave out late in the race, dropping him to 18th, while the other three Andretti cars of Ryan Hunter-Reay (8th), Danica Patrick (10th), and Marco Andretti (15th) fell off the lead lap.

Helio Castroneves held the lead with as few as a dozen laps to go, but Kanaan positioned himself perfectly for the victory, conserving 11 of his 24 allotted overtake assists for the final 11 laps. Castroneves had nine assists remaining, but they were not enough; with each assist lasting about halfway around the 7/8 mile track, Kanaan could run with extra horsepower for about the entire final segment of the race.

Castroneves had encountered issues with Kanaan earlier in the race, coming very close to his countryman on pit road early in the race. Castroneves was stuck between Kanaan and Scott Dixon racing out of the pits, overcorrected to avoid Kanaan's left rear and careened into Dixon, giving both cars a little air. Kanaan also had a pit incident with Hunter-Reay as the American pulled into his pit.

E.J. Viso finished third, salvaging one solid finish for KV Racing Technology. Mario Moraes became a victim of Justin Wilson's turn three spin at the beginning of the event, eliminating one of the three KV cars before anybody could even get into a rhythm. Takuma Sato, in the lead Lotus-sponsored KV car, had a fantastic run going before trailing Alex Lloyd too closely into the turns on lap 177, losing the air off his car, and sliding up into the wall.

Iowa also featured support races that went all the way down the Road to Indy ladder. In Firestone Indy Lights, former Andretti driver Sebastien Saavedra held off his replacement, Martin Plowman, for the victory. Conor Daly led all 100 laps of the Star Mazda race for his fourth consecutive victory in that series, and Sage Karam (also driving for Andretti) won his third US Formula 2000 event of the season.

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