By: Spencer Neff
July 18, 2019 | 10:49 AM
Although it has only been on the schedule since 2007, Iowa Speedway has quickly become one of the favored IndyCar venues for competitors and fans alike. Located in Newton, Iowa, the .894-mile short track has been known for quick laps, multiple grooves of racing and a passionate fan base.
On Saturday, fans of the NTT IndyCar Series will be treated to a 300-lap race that returns to a Saturday evening backdrop.
Ahead of the Iowa 300, we take a look back at one of the speedway’s most memorable races. After starting in the back of the pack, a veteran driver broke a long-standing winless streak.
Andretti fends off Kanaan for second career win
Heading into the June 25 race at Iowa Speedway, much of the focus for the IZOD IndyCar Series was on the championship chaser and its two main combatants.
Less than a week earlier, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti started on pole and dominated at the Milwaukee Mile. With the win, Franchitti not only tied Rick Mears for ninth on the all-time wins list with 29 victories, but he also tied Power for the championship lead.
As the series shifted to another short oval – Iowa Speedway – Power and Franchitti would find each other sharing the third row after qualifications. On the pole, KV Racing’s Takuma Sato led the way for his first such triumph in IndyCar.
At the start, Sato was able to pull away from Andretti Autosport’s Danica Patrick, who started second. By Lap 7, Franchitti had made his way to the front and looked to be among the main contenders yet again.
On Lap 24, James Jakes got loose and his Dale Coyne Racing machine backed into the Turn 2 wall, prompting the first caution of the evening. During the ensuing pit stop, Power collided with Charlie Kimball on pit road. The Team Penske driver was forced to make an additional pit stop to repair his car’s nose cone.
Following the Lap 34 restart, another yellow soon followed. Once again, Turn 2 was the trouble spot as Ana Beatriz and Mike Conway collided and crashed into the outside wall. Despite the heavy contact, both drivers walked away without notable injuries.
Up front, Franchitti continued to dominate, and by Lap 91, Power’s troubles had re-emerged.
Just as the two caution incidents before, Power eventually got loose and slammed into the Turn 2 wall. Although Power walked away from the violent impact, his championship hopes took another hit.
After the eight-lap caution, there were just 14 more laps run under green before Sebastian Saavedra backed into the Turn 2 wall. Fortunately, the rookie was able to walk away. Once the race went back to green on Lap 128, things stayed that way for 56 laps, the longest stretch of the night.
Midway through the stint, Franchitti saw his first major challenge of the night. Although he started 17th, Marco Andretti had worked his way to the front early and remained in the top-five for most of the night.
On Lap 152, the Andretti Autosport driver used an aggressive inside pass on Sato to take second place. Four laps later, he nosed in front of Franchitti for the top spot – but the duel was far from over.
By Lap 160, Franchitti re-passed Andretti to grasp the lead on the inside lane. From there, the two-time Iowa winner was at the point until Lap 184, when the two drivers pitted.
Just as Franchitti and Andretti ducked onto pit lane, Sato crashed on the back straightaway. While under the caution, JR Hildebrand took over as leader of the race. Once pit stops cycled through, Andretti would become the leader after beating Franchitti out of the pits.
Once the race restarted on Lap 199, the action picked up immensely. Within four laps, Kanaan had bullied his way to the front in his quest to repeat a 2010 triumph at Iowa.
Five laps later, Andretti once again made his way back to the lead. Then Kanaan leapfrogged his way back up to the front on Lap 212. Despite a valiant effort, Andretti remained in second for the time being.
With 19 laps to go, Andretti used yet another bold move on the inside lane for the lead. Despite his best efforts against his former teammate, Kanaan was unable to catch up to Andretti in the end. Finishing 0.7932 seconds ahead of Kanaan, Andretti snapped a 77-race winless streak.
After starting 23rd, Franchitti’s teammate Scott Dixon finished third to complete the podium. Rounding out the top-five were Hildebrand and Franchitti. Despite falling short of a third Iowa win, Franchitti now held a 31-point lead over Power.
From that point, Franchitti never looked back as he clinched his fourth straight title at season’s end, albeit under tragic circumstances when a crash claimed the life of former teammate Dan Wheldon.
Since their frantic duel under the lights in Iowa that night, Franchitti, Andretti and Kanaan have combined for just three wins and none since Kanaan won the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in 2014.
As for their success at Iowa Speedway, Kanaan’s streak of eight consecutive top-10s at the bullring ended last year. Meanwhile, Andretti has not had such a finish since a seventh-place effort in 2015.
Note: Thank you as always to everyone who participated in our poll on Twitter to select this week’s IndyCar Flashback.
There will continue to be a poll on our Twitter page (@Open_Wheels) to determine the race profiled for IndyCar Flashback prior to each race weekend. Keep an eye out each race week for the poll to cast your vote.
Header Image By Chris Jones/INDYCAR