Ryan Hunter-Reay’s charge from 15th on the grid to a third-place finish was a highlight for Honda Sunday afternoon at Iowa Speedway. The former series champion and three-time Iowa race winner equaled his best Verizon IndyCar Series result of the season and led the Honda field at the Iowa Corn 300.
Handling issues throughout practice and qualifying hampered Hunter-Reay at the short (0.894-mile) Iowa oval, the shortest track on the Indy car schedule. But by race time, Hunter-Reay and his Andretti Autosport team had found solutions to his difficulties, and the 2012 series champion began his climb through the field, moving into the top 10 by Lap 50, and running as high as second just before a rain shower stopped the race briefly at Lap 208.
Off-sequence pit stops by some competitors jumbled the order for a time, but by Lap 240 Hunter-Reay was back in third place, and would hold that position to the finish.
Not far behind, Graham Rahal took his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda to a fifth-place finish, his fourth top-five result in the last five races. Starting 10th, Rahal made progress early in the race by being one of the first to adopt a “high line” around the steeply-banked Iowa oval, but he was unable to further improve when the leaders also moved up the race track in the closing laps.
Although he struggled with handling problems throughout the weekend, championship points leader Scott Dixon nevertheless persevered to an eighth-place finish and maintains an eight-point advantage in the drivers’ title standings over race winner Helio Castroneves.
Rookie Ed Jones continued to impress in his debut IndyCar Series season, running consistently in the top 10 today until a pit strategy gamble failed to pay off, dropping him to an unrepresentative 18th at the checkers.
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