Dan Wheldon celebrated his 30th birthday by notching his second victory of the season, the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer at Iowa Speedway.
Wheldon took the lead out of a caution flag with 60 laps to go after his team made the decision not to pit. The move paid off, as Wheldon held off Andretti Green Racing drivers Hideki Mutoh and Marco Andretti down the stretch.
Wheldon's win gave Target Chip Ganassi Racing its fifth win in nine IndyCar Series events this season. Wheldon and teammate Scott Dixon, who finished fourth, plan to donate their combined winnings (approximately $60,000) to the victims of Iowa's recent floods and tornados.
Mutoh, the leader in the Bombadier Rookie of the Year standings, picked up his first top-five finish. Andretti had his best finish since also placing third in the Indy 500.
Dixon remains the IndyCar Series points leader, holding a 48-point advantage over Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves. Castroneves led a race-high 92 laps but a pit stop to replace a cut tire late in the race cost him two laps and resulted in a 14th-place finish.
INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE NOTES:
Dan Wheldon records his second victory of the season and the 15th of his career. Today is Wheldon’s 30th birthday. This is the 21st IndyCar Series victory for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Wheldon and Mutoh made their final pit stops on Lap 160. This is Hideki Mutoh’s career-best finish. He previously had three sixth-place finishes this season. Marco Andretti recorded his third podium finish of the season. He finished second at Homestead-Miami and third at Indianapolis. This is A.J. Foyt IV’s best finish of the season. His previous best was eighth at Kansas. Will Power finished ninth, his best finish on an oval this season. His previous best was 13th at Indianapolis and Texas. Power finished eighth at St. Petersburg. Graham Rahal finished 10th, his first top-10 finish on an oval. John Andretti finished 11th, his best finish of the season and the best finish ever for Roth Racing. The team’s previous best finish was 13th with driver Jay Howard at Kansas and Motegi earlier this season.
INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE QUOTES: BRIAN BARNHART (President, competition and operations, Indy Racing League): “I think clearly we had a much better race than last year. Firestone brought us a new tire that helped us a bunch, but I think the biggest factor was the weather. The higher temperatures and bright sunshine combined with the improved quality of the depth of the field, and I thought our drivers put on a great show. The racing exceeded expectations with good lead changes and good racing for position. The drivers had to be patient and work because the competition is so close, but when you were better you finally got there.” DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, finished first): “What a great day for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and a great birthday present for myself." (About decision to stay out and not pit): "It was a good call not to do it, but Chip's (Ganassi) not here, so if they had called me in, I don't think I would have come in anyway." (About donating winnings to charity): "My wife and I drove from Chicago to here and we saw the flooding and it was just heartbreaking. I thought it was something that Scott (Dixon) and I should do and fortunately, we were able to.” HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, second): “I am very happy to finish second. I am almost there so maybe next time.” MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Blockbuster, third): “It was good clean racing. It had to be good for the fans. It was good fun out there. I am very proud of the Blockbuster boys. We were towards the front all day and Hideki (Mutoh) is on it this year for sure.” (On traffic) “It is tough, the track was pretty good. It was kind of what we set up for. We matched the setup with the conditions and how we thought the race would play out. It was completely different from last year. That made it pretty fun.” (On the restart) “I knew I could trust my teammate. Danica (Patrick) was looking out for me, and she could have made it very tough for me and put me below the line. When you get a good run, you got go with it, and I had a good run.” SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Commit, fourth): “Early on, the car was definitely not working the way I wanted. It was very loose, especially on the low line. I started using the high line and it came together better. The high line was definitely the choice of the day. When you had three or four guys in front on you trying to do the same thing, it was difficult to pass. I think strategy played out in the end and that’s the way it goes. It’s hard work to pass here. It’s good to see Dan (Wheldon) get a break; he’s had a tough year so far.” A.J. FOYT IV (No. 2 Lilly Diabetes/Vision Racing, fifth): “It’s my best race of the year, for sure, and the most fun I’ve had out there in a long time. We’ve been looking for a good top-five finish all year long. We’re just happy we got it done.” DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, sixth): “The Motorola car ran well today. I wish that I was able to keep position on the last restart, but what’s done is done. I have to thank my crew for all their hard work. I just wish had a better finish.” RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, seventh): “It was challenging out there today. I think we just didn't have enough downforce and we struggled to find grip. We made adjustments throughout the day, and towards the end of the race we had a solid car. The good news is that we were able to salvage a fairly decent result with a seventh-place finish. Plus, the Team Penske guys did a great job in the pits all day, so I really have to hand it to them. Now we just have to maintain our focus and look ahead to next week's race in Richmond.” RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, eighth): “Today was pretty good for us. We had a good car, and we got beat by cars playing the fuel strategy game. Will Power held me up on the last restart, and that was the end of it. I thought we had a podium finish here in front of the Ethanol folks, but fuel mileage gambles made the difference. I'm not complaining, but you hate to lose a race like that. I had fun out there today, we had a great car, we just have to get one of the breaks that some of these other guys are getting.” WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, ninth): “That was a really good race for the KVRT Aussie Vineyards–Team Australia car, I was able to get really good restarts, but just lacked some speed towards the end. I am extremely happy with a top-10 finish. It’s good for us and about as good as we can get on this type of oval, so I am very happy. The Aussie Vineyards–Team Australia crew have done a great job all weekend, and I am looking forward to continuing to make progress next weekend in Richmond.” GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps, 10th): “Overall it was a pretty good race. The guys did great pit stops and the car was awesome, especially that last stint. If we could have had that car all through the race, I think we could have moved up through the field. We worked on it all day. In the middle of the race, we weren’t very good, but we stuck with it, and by the end I really do think we had a good car. We’ll just keep working at it.”*** The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the SunTrust Indy Challenge June 28 at Richmond International Raceway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 8 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and .indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Corning Duels same-day doubleheader on July 5 at Watkins Glen International. The Jeld-Wen 100 will be telecast at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) June 26 on ESPN2 and live on indycar.com.