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IndyCar Series 2012

Round 09: Iowa

  • Overview
  • Race Results
  • Qualifying
  • Photo
June 23, 2012

Dixon Leads, Pagenaud Stars for Honda in Iowa

Scott Dixon led 76 laps of a rain-delayed Iowa Corn Indy 250 Saturday night at Iowa Speedway and appeared to be in contention for his second win for 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season. But Dixon slipped to a fourth-place finish in the closing laps after getting caught by eventual race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and then held up by lapped traffic.

Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi)
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi)

In just his fourth oval race, Simon Pagenaud starred in his Schmidt Hamilton Racing Honda Dallara, coming from 25th and last on the starting grid to a fifth-place finish, solidifying his hold on sixth place in the overall drivers’ championship and increasing his lead in the chase for series Rookie of the Year honors.

Dixon started eighth in tonight’s 250-lap contest, which was delayed approximately 40 minutes while workers dried the track after a series of mid-afternoon showers. He spent most of the first half of the race at the tail end of the lead pack. But his Target Chip Ganassi Racing team elected to take him “off sequence” with a pit stop on Lap 100. That moved him to the front when most of the remaining cars made their next scheduled stops, and put Dixon in contention for the victory.

However, an encounter with lapped traffic on Lap 237 cost him valuable momentum, and he quickly dropped to fourth place as Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan quickly worked their way past. Meanwhile Pagenaud, who had struggled mightily in Friday’s practice and qualifying heat races, suddenly found a great balance as the race wore on, and steadily moved through the field, reaching the top-10 by mid-race and climbing to fifth at the checkers.

Other Honda-powered drivers had less luck tonight. Polesitter Dario Franchitti was the first retirement when a sudden engine failure – the same engine that powered him to victory in last month’s Indianapolis 500 – ended his race as the field approached the green flag. Texas race winner Justin Wilson ran in the lead group several times, but lost ground during each pit stop. Josef Newgarden raced near the front of the field during the first 100 laps, but then lost ground and ended his race on Lap 178 as a result of contact with race leader Ryan Briscoe.

Concluding this run of five consecutive race weekends that opened with the Indianapolis 500 in May, the IZOD IndyCar Series now takes a week off before resuming with the series’ annual Canadian swing, starting with the July 8 Honda Indy Toronto.

Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt Hamilton Racing)
Race Photozoom
Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt Hamilton Racing)

Driver Interview

Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 8th, finished 4th:
“We struggled early in the race with understeer. We made some changes at the first couple of pit stops, but we never completely got rid of it. The team made some great calls with the pit strategy, and that’s what got us to the front. Once we were up there, we gave it the best effort we could but the car would fall off as the laps ran down. Then we ran into some problems with traffic, which killed our momentum and made it pretty easy for a couple of guys to get around us near the end. It was a decent night, but not all that it could have been.”
Simon Pagenaud (#77 Schmidt Hamilton Racing Honda) started 25th, finished 5th, his best oval track result of 2012:
“This has been a very emotional week for us. We lost my girlfriend’s dad. He was like a second father to me, so it’s been tough, and I’d like to dedicate tonight’s race to his memory. When I saw everyone in front of me at the start, my thought process was ‘just to move forward.’ It was really difficult at the beginning. We were already a lap down before I got confident with the car. Then something just clicked, and everything unlocked and we started moving forward. Oval racing is a mental game, a chess game and when you have a fantastic race car, like we had tonight, it is really good fun. Our car was that good, so I really enjoyed tonight. But I’m ready to go back home to France tomorrow.”
Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development) on tonight’s final short oval race of 2012:
"It was a disappointing race from the outset. The issue for Dario on the pace lap took him out of contention immediately. Scott was looking pretty strong, and the team made a good call to take him ‘off sequence’ and put him in the lead. Unfortunately, in trying to pass a backmarker he got caught out and that ended his chance to win. It was a good run for Simon; he’d been struggling all weekend with handling, but he put together a great run tonight. It really solidifies his position in the championship and the Rookie of the Year race, and he is showing his talent for competing on a variety of circuits. We’re all looking forward to a break, but the next race in Toronto is very important. It is Honda-sponsored, and a race at which many Honda drivers have done well.”
IndyCar Series
Round 09: Iowa
Rank Driver (Team)
1 Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport)
2 Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport)
3 Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Technology)
4 Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi)
5 Simon Pagenaud-R (Schmidt Hamilton Racing)
6 Helio Castroneves (Team Penske)
7 Rubens Barrichello (KV Racing Technology)
8 Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing)
9 Graham Rahal (Chip Ganassi Racing)
10 Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing)
11 Charlie Kimball (Chip Ganassi Racing)
12 Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan)
13 James Jakes (Dale Coyne Racing)
16 Alex Tagliani (Bryan Herta Autosport)
19 Josef Newgarden-R (Sarah Fisher Hartman)
20 Mike Conway (A.J. Foyt Racing)
25 Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi)

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