Iowa Corn Indy 250
by Esteban Morales
June 24 , 2007
As the IndyCar circus arrived in Iowa for the inaugural Iowa Corn Indy 250 drivers and crews were dumbfounded by the Rusty Wallace-designed 7/8 miles bullring. Though it outwardly resembled smaller ovals, such as the Milwaukee Mile, the tiny tri-oval drove like a super speedway with drivers lapping flat out in excess of 180 mph. Like the track, the event drew puzzled faces from the drop of the green. Pole-sitter Scott Dixon led the field through the first lap while an accident in the second turn involving Dan Wheldon and Tomas Scheckter set the tone for the rest of the race.
Dixon, Wheldon’s teammate, was the next driver to suffer from uncharacteristic circumstances; at the restart Dixon limped into the pits with serious steering problems that ruined his race and handed Helio Castroneves the lead. By lap 50 the Brazilian and Dario Franchitti broke away from the pack before Castroneves peeled into the pits on lap 69. Though Castroneves pitted briskly his troubled season continued when he spun while exiting pit lane and stalled his car bringing out the second caution of the event. Following the yellow Vitor Meira led Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick, Buddy Rice, A.J. Foyt IV, and the rest back to the green. Tony Kanaan, known for his brash restarts, unexpectedly lost control of his Andretti Green Racing entry in turn 2 just two laps after the restart and ended Jeff Simmons’ race in the process. The lap 99 restart continued to shrink the field as Patrick, who was sandwiched between three cars, touched wheels with Ed Carpenter erupting a six-car collision that also involved Castroneves, Foyt IV, Sam Hornish Jr., and Kosuke Matsuura.
With just eleven cars running before the halfway mark, deserving drivers with smaller budgets, such as Darren Manning and Buddy Rice, found themselves in the top six. Rice continued to ascend the standings and led the event as Meira and other front runners entered the pits during a fifth caution for debris. Dario Franchitti drove around Rice at the restart to take command of the event. From then on the Scotsman refused to relinquish the lead of the race to Marco Andretti, who chased Franchitti for the remainder of the event. Meira initially challenged Andretti for second but eventually dropped back.
On lap 215 Franchitti made his final stop for fuel only while the AGR crew scrambled to fit Andretti’s car with tires one lap later. Just after Andretti made his way into the pits Meira’s day ended when his left front suspension collapsed while slowing to enter pit lane. On lap 226 Andretti was given a final opportunity to challenge Franchitti as the field was slowed due to debris on the track. Andretti tucked in behind his teammate for the rest of the race and occasionally attempted to pass on the outside. Although Andretti was unable to take his first victory of the season he finished a confidence-building second while Franchitti collected his first post-Indy victory and opened ground on the rest of the championship contenders who fell by the wayside.