Kiwi driver Scott Dixon fails to capitalise on chance to close gap at Iowa IndyCars race
Kiwi driver Scott Dixon missed a golden opportunity to make serious inroads into Juan Pablo Montoya's IndyCar series lead at the Iowa stop on Sunday (NZ time).
Montoya's night lasted just nine of the 300 laps after his No 2 Penske car flew into the wall, opening the door for Dixon, who entered the race second in points, 54 adrift.
The Kiwi featured near the pace for the first half of the race but ultimately failed to capitalise on Montoya's misfortune and drifted back to finish 18th.
Dixon only gained six points on Montoya and also lost second place in the championship standings. That position is now helf by Graham Rahal, who is 42 points behind Montoya after finishing fourth at Iowa.
There are three races remaining this year.
American Ryan Hunter-Reay raced to his third IndyCar victory at Iowa Speedway in the last four years.
Hunter-Reay held off the field on a late restart to give Andretti Autosport its sixth consecutive win on the 0.894-mile oval and its seventh in nine series races at the track.
Josef Newgarden was second and rookie Sage Karam was a career-best third, giving American drivers a sweep of the podium. The last time Americans finished in the top three spots was the 2006 Indianapolis 500.
Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion, had been among the more high-profile drivers to struggle with Honda's engine and aero kit this season. In fact, he hadn't finished higher than fifth all season.
But he always seems to run his best in Iowa. Hunter-Reay, who used fresh tires to get past half the field in the final 10 laps to win in 2014, clinched his 15th career win and gave beleaguered Honda its fourth victory in 13 starts this season.
For Montoya, the run of good luck he'd experienced all season finally came to an abrupt end. It was only fitting that it happened at Iowa - again.
Montoya, who maintained his edge with top-10s in every race but one, lost control and hit the wall in the second turn, crushing the right side of Team Penske's No 2 Chevrolet. It ended a string of 18 straight races where Montoya was running at the finish.
Montoya last left a race early at Iowa in 2014 because of contact with 20 laps left. "Something broke. As soon as I let it up, something gave out," Montoya said. "It sucks when it's completely out of our hands, when something fails."
Newgarden wound up second at Iowa for the second year in a row. It wasn't a shock to see Karam have his breakthrough at Iowa, given that he'd won races here in four separate ladder series.
Karam did so with some maneuvering that left some of his competitors steamed. Ed Carpenter even confronted the rookie after a close encounter between the two, though the altercation didn't become physical.
"It's cool that Ryan won the race. He needed that. Americans kicked butt," Carpenter said. "[Karam] should have been penalised on the spot. He has no clue."