Hinchcliffe Wins First Race of 2018 in Bizarre Finish

Photo Credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar

The Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway was all about rebounding for James Hinchcliffe.

Rebounding from missing the Indianapolis 500. Rebounding from a loss of momentum since missing the Indianapolis 500. Rebounding from an 11th-place starting spot for today’s race.

And rebounding, he did.

Hinchcliffe made his way through the field fairly quickly, but it was 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden who dominated the first two-thirds of the race, leading 229 of 300 laps.

In the closing 25 laps of the race, though, Hinchcliffe found himself reeling in Newgarden. Unknowingly, Newgarden gingerly made his way through lapped traffic and Hinchcliffe caught last year’s champion and made the pass. Once Hinchcliffe was in front of him, a huge gap opened up and he set sail.

It seemed like Hinchcliffe wasn’t going to be caught but a caution with seven laps to go caused confusion, and ultimately ended the race.

Lapped car Ed Carpenter slid sideways in turn two and was clipped by Takuma Sato, who was running in fifth. The hit knocked debris off of Sato’s Honda, causing a caution.

Hinchcliffe, with a nine-second lead at the time of caution, stayed out on track when race stewards opened pit road a few laps later. Newgarden and Robert Wickens, two of the only five cars running on the lead lap, pitted while Hinchcliffe, Spencer Pigot and Sato stayed out.

On the following lap, lapped cars were permitted to pit.

By the time every car had the opportunity to pit, INDYCAR had to leave time for wave-around cars to pass the leader.

At that point, there was no time to restart the race and Hinchcliffe won, his second victory at Iowa. Pigot and Sato finished second and third with Newgarden and Wickens rounding out the top-five.

“Man what a way to do a win,” Hinchcliffe told NBCSN. “Man, it feels good to do a double here at Iowa.”

The win allows Hinchcliffe, from Oakville, Ont., only a short 24 miles from Toronto, to go into his home race at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Toronto with an abundance of momentum.

“Just going into Toronto like this, we’re so stoked,” Hinchcliffe said.

For Pigot and Sato, it was their first podium finishes of the season. Pigot’s second-place finish was the best of his career.

“Right from the get go, I knew we had a fast car,” Pigot said after the race. “Before we knew it, we were right up near the front. It was a real team effort, it was fun, tough, lots of close racing, but yeah, I enjoyed it.”

Will Power, the polesitter for the race, finished sixth as the first car one lap down. Behind him it was Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi and Carpenter.

Scott Dixon, who struggled through the entirety of the race, came home in 12th and maintains his point lead over Newgarden in second and Rossi in third.

About Tyson Lautenschlager 552 Articles
A 22-year-old from Ontario, Canada, Tyson Lautenschlager is a Humber College journalism graduate. He is currently the managing editor of OnPitRoad and a chase producer at CTV News Channel in Toronto.