When I think of the state of Iowa, the first thing I think of is probably the University of Iowa, then corn, then the flooding that's pounded the state this summer. I don't think of open wheel racing and excitement, honestly. But yesterday if you tuned into the IRL race, you got to see a show. The high-banked oval provided an excellent venue for lots of passing and a familiar winner.
Dan Wheldon went away with the victory...that's not surprising or even too exciting since Ganassi cars have been so consistent this season. But the fact that Wheldon had to bring a T car up to speed after another practice crash showed how capable he and his team both are. Furthermore, what happened behind Wheldon was pretty interesting.
Hideki Mutoh, another driver from one of the big three teams, had a strong showing and finished second. Mutoh finished higher than any Japanese driver had ever finished in an IRL event. That doesn't say a whole bunch since there really have only been a handful of drivers from the land of the rising sun, but he's young...and is one of the reasons that I'm pretty excited for what's coming down the pike in this series.
Marco Andretti's drive was also impressive; but for a different reason. I know he can drive fast, but patience and driving wisdom is something he seems to be extremely short on. At times, it seems Marco is willing to risk prize money, his car and even his life to get to the top of the leader board. Yesterday though, after nearly putting himself and Mutoh into the wall as the race came to a close, he backed off and rode it out for a solid third place finish. His Dad was probably happy on a number of levels.
Much like in Japan, earlier in the season, this race was defined by heady pit stops and strategery. Pit crews and technicians helped Wheldon, Dixon, Patrick and others finish in the top-10...But one of the best things to watch was the way a couple of young guys raced.
A.J. Foyt IV and Ryan Hunter-Reay both had top-10 finishes...and the reason they were near the front for much of the day was simply because they earned their way up there. Vision and Rahal Letterman are both solid, second-tier racing teams for IRL...But I would really like to see either or both of these guys get a shot with top-of-the-line equipment with the best-possible team around them. They both seem to be on the precipous of something great, but I believe, it's going to take better situations to get them over the top.
Two former CC guys, Power and Rahal both finished in the top-10 and Wilson and Viso were close behind. These four Champ Car transplants all seem to be capable and are getting the hang of oval racing as the season progresses.
I've said it before and will do so again, there is a lot to be excited about when you look at the future of Indy Car. Next up, another short track in Richmond on Saturday.