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30th IndyCar Victory For Castroneves

Helio Castroneves takes the twin checkers to win the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway.   [Photo by: Chris Jones]

Helio Castroneves takes the twin checkers to win the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway.   [Photo by: Chris Jones]

 

by Paul Gohde

Newton, IA – He last won a Verizon IndyCar Series race back in 2014 at Detroit. It was number 29 in his long career and for the last three years it started to look like he might never get number 30.

“Everything happens at the right time,” he said in victory lane at Iowa Speedway Sunday, and there it was, that elusive number 30, just at the right time for ageless Helio Castroneves.

Castroneves, the only Team Penske driver without a win this season, joined his mates to make Roger smile yet again, leading 217 of the Iowa Corn 300 lapper. “He never gave up on me,” the Brazilian said of his car owner and friend. “I never doubted I’d have another win…but it’s a great relief let me tell you. We’ve always had chances to win but something always happened.”

Runner-up Jr Hildebrand led for 38 laps, and had a chance to regain a late-race lead coming out of the final pit stops, but “just at the right time” a lapped car slowed him for just a bit; all the time Castroneves needed to pounce and retain a lead that he held on and off since the early laps. “I got jammed up in traffic and he got by. Timing was everything and he passed at just the right time. It was tough to get by guys especially at the end when the heat made the track one lane as the tires were going away,” an articulate Hildebrand described.

New tires looked like they might give Hildebrand a shot at winning when he pitted for the final time. He came in first among the leaders on lap 267 and took on fresh Firestones at a time when they were what everyone was looking for to negate the hot, slippery track. “We came in early and got out first. It was the right call and we were able to hold off everybody but one.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, pole-winner Will Power and Graham Rahal rounded out the first five and Hunter-Reay especially felt good to be on a podium again at a track he really likes. “We had an ill-handling car when we got here, but we made the right changes in warmups and kept on working on the front wing during the race. We were able to go from 15th at the start to third at the end,” said the three-time Iowa winner. “I love this track.”

With the top three somewhat clearly in the lead much of the way, a mad scramble was going on behind them as everyone from Hinchcliffe and point-leader Dixon to Pagenaud and Newgarden fought with the hope that something might happen to the leaders that would open an opportunity to move up. But only Will Power made significant moves to the front from his pole position, leading 23 laps during three portions of the race.

But at the end, there was Spiderman, back in his familiar fence-climbing mode; a climb that he first made at Indianapolis. The fans cheered madly as the climb ensued, but it was perhaps a bit slower than after other wins. “I’m not as young as I used to be,” said the smiling super hero. “It was just like a win for the first time.”

But this was his 30th win, and it took just 1,134 days since the last one. A long time, even for Spiderman.

NOTES: With no previous racing experience on an oval, former Formula One driver Esteban Gutierrez finished a credible 13th for Dale Coyne after running as high as 8th…After missing the IndyCar round at Road America, Roger Penske confessed that he was at the America’s Cup yacht races. And noted that he might just build a one…With hot, steamy weather (92-degrees) at race time, the race was red-flagged on lap 197 due to light rain from one ominous, dark cloud…Three cautions slowed the race due to minor incidents involving, Mikhail Aleshin, Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz…Winner Castroneves received a warning/post-race penalty from IndyCar as did Ed Jones…Honda and Chevrolet each finished with five cars in the top 10…JR Hildebrand’s #21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet made contact with the wall during final IndyCar practice Saturday. The Ed Carpenter crew repaired the damage in time for afternoon qualifying…Carlos Munoz’ ABC Supply Chevrolet made contact with the wall exiting Turn 2 on his qualifying run. He started last in the 21-car field.

Iowa Corn 300 race results
NEWTON, Iowa – Results Sunday of the Iowa Corn 300 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 300, Running
2. (2) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 300, Running
3. (15) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 300, Running
4. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 300, Running
5. (10) Graham Rahal, Honda, 300, Running
6. (16) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 300, Running
7. (11) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 300, Running
8. (17) Scott Dixon, Honda, 300, Running
9. (7) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 300, Running
10. (9) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 300, Running
11. (12) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 299, Running
12. (4) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 299, Running
13. (18) Esteban Gutierrez, Honda, 299, Running
14. (13) Max Chilton, Honda, 299, Running
15. (14) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 298, Running
16. (5) Takuma Sato, Honda, 298, Running
17. (20) Marco Andretti, Honda, 298, Running
18. (8) Ed Jones, Honda, 297, Running
19. (19) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 168, Contact
20. (21) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 130, Contact
21. (6) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 56, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 139.702
Time of Race: 1:55:11.2807
Margin of victory: 3.9647 seconds
Cautions: 4 for 44 laps
Lead changes: 12 among 8 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Power 1-19
Castroneves 20-96
Hildebrand 97-134
Power 135
Castroneves 136-173
Kimball 174-183
Castroneves 184-252
Power 253-255
Newgarden 256
Pagenaud 257-258
Chilton 259-260
Andretti 261-267
Castroneves 268-300

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Dixon 403, Castroneves 395, Pagenaud 372, Power 350, Newgarden 347, Rahal 337, Sato 337, Kanaan 295, Rossi 290, Chilton 268.

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”