Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud took his first victory of the 2020 NTT IndyCar season by nursing his tires and fuel to the end of the 250 laps on the short oval at Iowa Speedway.
Qualifying order was set by the first lap of a two-lap qualifying session earlier in the day. Conor Daly pulled out a fantastic drive in his #59 Carlin Chevrolet to earn his, and his team’s, first ever IndyCar pole.
The race was fairly straightforward until near lap 150 when Team Penske’s Will Power lost a front left wheel while out on track and crashed into the barriers.
He had just been through the pits for service a few laps before and the replays showed the crew member had an awkward change of that wheel, leading to the issues that ended Power’s night.
A called-off restart caused the night’s next crazy sight. As the cars stacked up unexpectedly in the back of the queue, Colton Herta ran into the back of rookie Rinus VeeKay. Herta was launched by the other car’s rear tire and flew through the air down the front stretch.
Luckily the drivers were not up to speed at this point and Herta narrowly missed getting caught in the catch fence, minimizing the danger to everyone involved. The Aeroscreen helped in this regard as well, protecting the drivers from other flying cars and the subsequent rain of bodywork.
Marcus Ericsson was just behind this crash and even had a piece of wing bounce directly off the screen of his Aeroscreen, bringing back memories of less fortunate accidents that have happened in the same manner in the past. In this case, the new protective element did its job, all drivers were unhurt, and Ericsson was able to continue to a ninth place finish.
For the reminder of the race, varying pit strategies caused some hairy moments as cars on new tires flew past those on older rubber, but there were no further issues and the race continued to the end under green.
Race winner Pagenaud started dead last having not even taken part in qualifying due to a fuel pump issue. In the end, starting position did not matter and the Frenchman was able to climb through to field to take victory in the first race of the double-header.
Points leader Scott Dixon protected his points lead and finished a close second, after himself climbing from a poor starting position.
Arrow McLaren SP drivers Oliver Askew and Pato O’Ward finished third and fourth for the team’s best combined finish of the team’s first season.
Tony Kanaan had a tough break at lap 94, brushing the wall and bending his right-rear tow link. The honorary Grand Marshal for the race had to sit in the pits while repairs were made, finishing a disappointing 18th position.
Pagenaud will look to put on the same performance tomorrow, as he again starts in the rear for the second race of the double-header.