Ryan Hunter-Reay buried his post-Indianapolis 500 slump with a set of fresh tires that pumped life into his title hopes.
Hunter-Reay blew past the field with two laps to go and won the IndyCar race at Iowa Speedway Saturday in Newton for his first victory since May.
Hunter-Reay hadn’t led a lap since his victory in Indianapolis, and he spent most of the Iowa race far from contention. But he got new tires on a late pit stop and stormed past Tony Kanaan for his third victory in 2014. Kanaan led 247 of the 300 laps at Iowa’s .875-mile oval.
“That was crazy. We took the tires as a big gamble,” said Hunter-Reay, who jumped from fifth to third in the IndyCar standings by passing nine cars in nine laps. “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.”
Josef Newgarden finished second, followed by Kanaan and Scott Dixon. Helio Castroneves finished eighth, taking sole possession of the series points lead.
Keselowski shines in Nationwide Series win
Brad Keselowski had a couple of impressive performances in New Hampshire. It’s the celebration that again gave him fits.
Keselowski topped all the fields Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, including a dominant run in his Nationwide Series victory. Keselowski also led the speed charts during both Sprint Cup practices. Throw in the pole for the Nationwide race, and that made Keselowski a neat 4 for 4.
His only hiccup came when he dropped the American flag out of his No. 22 Ford. The flag rested on the track before it was retrieved by an official to let the celebration continue.
“It was really windy and my hand’s been sore,” he said. “I took my hand off the flag for the second and the wind ripped it out. It wasn’t one of my prouder moments.”
Vickers eyes another New Hampshire victory
Brian Vickers can already claim a victory this season without taking a checkered flag. Vickers has started all 18 Sprint Cup races, a number that holds a special significance.
It means the blood clots that have cost him major chunks of his career since 2010 have yet to return.
He missed 25 races in 2010 when clots were discovered in his legs and, while he was out, he had heart surgery to prevent future clots from moving through his body to his brain.
But last year, after four years of health scares and unemployment put his promising career in doubt, Vickers was the surprise winner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He snapped a 75-race winless streak and won for third time in 271 starts.
“I was out of the car and was told I may never race again,” Vickers said. “And, to be able to get back into a car at all was a huge accomplishment for me personally. And, then to get back in Victory Lane was just kind of put it over the top.”
He starts 17th in today’s Sprint Cup race at Loudon.