Ryan Hunter-Reay was the race leader when moisture on the racing surface at New Hampshire Motor Speedway brought out the yellow flag. About 20 minutes later and after much confusion, he was in Victory Circle for a muted celebration for winning the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225.
The finish order was set based on the Lap 215 running order under caution -- before a Lap 217 restart that went awry because of a slick racing surface.
"It will be an aborted restart. It was a mistake on Race Control's part and the only right thing to do and the fair thing to do is to go to the running order before the restart," said INDYCAR president of competition and operations Brian Barnhart, the chief steward of the IZOD IndyCar Series.
As cars exited Turn 4 of the 1.025-mile oval for the double-file restart, Danica Patrick's car spun to start a chain reaction of light contact that involved four other cars on the lead lap.
Hunter-Reay, who started fifth in the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop car for Andretti Autosport and inherited the lead on Lap 190 when Takuma Sato pitted for fuel, earned his first IZOD IndyCar Series oval victory. He's had podium finishes in three of the past four races.
Oriol Servia finished a season-high second in the No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing car and Scott Dixon earned his second consecutive podium finish (he won at Mid-Ohio a week earlier) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. Rookie James Hinchcliffe tied his season high in fourth place in the No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing car.
Will Power, who started 13th in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, finished fifth and Patrick was sixth. Power's result sliced 15 points from Dario Franchitti's series championship points lead. That gap is now 47 heading to Infineon Raceway for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 27.
Franchitti appeared to be on the way to a big day until Lap 118. That's when the race leader was involved in a tire-to-tire collision with Sato's No. 5 KV Racing Technology-Lotus car on a restart that spun the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car into the inside wall near the start/finish line.
Franchitti, who earned the three bonus points for the pole and leading the most race laps, had been running at the finish in 43 consecutive races.
Also on Aug. 14, Pole sitter Josef Newgarden didn't have any issues controlling the race pace following a Lap 1 spin of Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Bryan Clauson's car exiting Turn 2.
Following a Lap 69 caution for a spin of another teammate, Esteban Guerrieri, Newgarden didn't have any challengers.
By Lap 65, Newgarden had put all cars but the No. 7 Lucas Oil entry driven by Guerrieri a lap down in the New Hampshire 100 on the 1.025-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway and went on to his fifth victory of the season.
Newgarden increased his Firestone Indy Lights championship points lead over Guerrieri, who was the runner-up for the third time this season, with three races remaining.
Jorge Goncalvez, who started a season-high fifth in the No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing Special, finished a season-best second (his eighth top 10 in 11 races). Duarte Ferreira was third in the No. 28 Bryan Herta Autosport car -- also a season high -- and Gustavo Yacaman advanced seven positions to finish fourth in the No. 2 TMR-Tuvacol-Xtreme Coil Drilling car.
DAY 3 NOTEBOOK:
Rico Petrocelli says he purchased a Corvette with part of the bonus money he received from the Boston Red Sox back in the day and opened it up to 110 mph on the highway.
It was the fastest he had traveled in a car until Aug. 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when he took a ride in an Indy Racing Experience two-seater with Al Unser Jr. behind the wheel.
"Almost as fast as a Nolan Ryan fastball," said Petrocelli, a Red Sox All-Star infielder from 1963-76 who spoke in chapel services before the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225. "I played in two World Series and that two-seat ride was more fun."
Petrocelli also toured the garages following the morning warm-up session.
"When I saw the Indy cars, I said 'Wow,' he said. "It was a thrill for me to come out here today. I got to see some of what's involved with these cars and it's incredible. The speed, the preparation, the focus you need. A lot of athletes from other sports used to ask me what it's like to play in the major leagues. We feel the same way about the other sports.
"They need hand-eye coordination, stamina and strength, and it takes love of the sport and what you're doing. In baseball, you know you could get hit in the head but you love it so much you do it. These drivers love what they're doing and they know the dangers. Their focus is on winning the race."
Pre-race show added to 'World Championship'
INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said ABC has added a 30-minute pre-race show to the IZOD INDYCAR World Championship on Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Last week, INDYCAR and ABC announced that they signed an agreement in which ABC will continue to be the exclusive network partner of the IZOD IndyCar Series through 2018. The extension is concurrent with the remaining years of the VERSUS (on Jan. 2 to be rebranded NBC Sports Channel) contract.
"I want to thank ABC for their commitment. I think it says a lot that they were willing to do a new deal for six years," Bernard said. "It is substantially better for us financially as well as we believe there will be a lot of new promotional ideas in this contract that will help INDYCAR."
Leave the driving to us
Sacramento River Cats reliever Bruce Billings will be driven to Raley Field on Aug. 16 by Arie Luyendyk Jr. in the street-legal two-seater for the Triple A game against the Albuquerque Isotopes.
The River Cats are shooting for their fifth consecutive division title.
The next day, Luyendyk will give Marine Staff Sergeant Harry Easter a ride in the two-seater in San Francisco. He's a 12-year vet who recently returned from a seven-month tour of Afghanistan.
The events are promotional vehicles (pun intended) for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 28 at Infineon Raceway.
A moment of silence was observed before the race in honor of individuals killed and injured at the Indiana State Fair on Aug. 13 when a gust of wind from an advancing storm toppled the stage rigging before a concert. Tomas Scheckter said he would auction his helmet to raise funds to cover medicall expenses of the injured. ... MoveThatBlock.com co-founders Todd Drowlette and Patrick Gray and president Tom Amell were the grand marshals. ... Helio Castroneves finished 17th in his 200th Indy car race with Penske Racing.
MOVETHATBLOCK.COM INDY 225 POST-RACE NOTES:
· This is Ryan Hunter-Reay's first win in 2011 and the fifth of his INDYCAR career. His last win was at Long Beach in April 2010.
· This is Hunter-Reay's third podium finish in the last four races. He finished third at both Mid-Ohio and Toronto.
· Hunter-Reay is the seventh different race winner in 2011. He is the third Andretti Autosport driver to win in 2011, joining Mike Conway and Marco Andretti as race winners this season.
· Oriol Servia finished second, his best finish of the season. His previous best finish was third at Milwaukee.
· Scott Dixon finished third, his seventh podium finish of the season.
· Rookie James Hinchcliffe finished fourth, his best finish on an oval and matching his best finish in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
· Will Power finished fifth, his eighth top-five finish of the season.
MOVETHATBLOCK.COM INDY 225 POST-RACE QUOTES:
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "I knew we had a good car this weekend and in practice we've been making the car better and better. They have done such a good job. We have great chemistry on this team and it's a great result. I feel like the race turned was Dario and Sato getting together. I don't know who's fault that was. That's for them to decide. My car was so good in traffic. The guys deserve this win. This one is for them. I wish that it was different, but we'll take it after the year that we've had." (About the conditions at the end): "I couldn't even warm the tires it was so wet. I don't think the fans at home understand how wet it was. We have a very small contact patch and the Firestone contact patch is amazing but when there's some rain down, there's nothing there. I couldn't even put the power down in second or third. Wrong move on race control's part. We had such a great car today. I love these short ovals. They are so much fun. It was a strange day. But sometimes racing is strange."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing, finished fourth): "I feel really good. It's a strong result for us. We started fourth, which was the best qualifying effort and ran second early in the first stint. I had a small problem on the pit stop. I went bit long in the box and had a problem on the right rear. But we fought our way back up. We had a good car in traffic, and on short track like this, traffic is really the name of the game, so it was really fun out there."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen, finished ninth): "Charlie - "Another great day for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. We had the speed all day, and at one point during that first stint I think the No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car was quickest car on the track. I got caught up early on behind (Marco) Andretti and he was a little erratic, so I had to be careful and unfortunately went a lap down. The yellows for moisture just caught us wrong, but we were quick all day. I can't wait to go to Sonoma next with two top-10 qualifying efforts and two top-11 finishes in-a-row; it gives the Novo Nordisk team some good momentum to finish out the season."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing, finished 10th): "All that happened at the end of the race isn't worth talking about—everything speaks for itself-but I think it was big mistake [to not finish the race]. Our car was okay but we came from a very tough run of small ovals. We had a bad Milwaukee race and a bad race in Iowa so at least we got some points back and our confidence back here which is a very tough track. The ABC Supply team did a good job, we got places on the starts and a lot of people were having problems with cold tires and we were ok on that. We got a lot of positions by other people's mistakes and crashes. It's good to be top 10 but bittersweet - to be honest, we should have finished seventh but instead we're 10th."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "First of all, I have to apologize for losing my temper after the accident that ended our race. Regardless of what happened on the race track, my behavior was inexcusable and I apologize to our sponsors, the fans, the IZOD IndyCar Series officials and the Penske Racing organization. I should not have behaved the way I did and I am sorry. It's definitely no excuse but I was just very frustrated because our car ran so well and our team had worked so hard to put ourselves into a position to get a good finish and I thought it was just ridiculous to restart the race under the dangerous conditions that existed on the race track. I am just glad the officials decided to make the decision to revert the finishing order back to what it was before the final restart. I want to thank my team for their hard work today and, again, I'm sorry for the way our race ended and how I handled the situation."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "Most importantly they just need to be consistent. In my eyes, I should have been second right behind Oriol Servia because Ryan (Hunter-Reay) didn't go. I think that Ryan deserved to win today because he had the better car and he was out front, but it went green. We aren't racing USAC on the dirt so why did they go back a lap and include no pace car laps and invert the order of how it actually played out. It just makes no sense because they have been going off of time lines all day and because of that we got passed by the No. 06 twice today. I just don't understand race control's thinking. It isn't make things up as you go racing; It is IndyCar racing with rules. I am fine if they make decisions, they just need to be consistent. You can't go back and do several different things and race that way. It needs to be the same thing every time."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "I think it was really wet out there and we shouldn't have gone out, but they threw the green and I was ahead when the yellow went out. Any racing, even here, when you call the leader that is the way it stands. They called me the leader and then they decide to reserve it. I am very upset. Race control called leader car No. 2 and that is when the yellow came, we were ahead."
ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): "Obviously this weekend hasn't been one to remember, but the whole team fought hard. I never gave up, just like the team didn't give up on me all weekend. We were making up spots in the race, and the car was really good on restarts. I passed cars every single start, and today was the most fun I've had on two-wide restarts. It's just disappointing. We were working hard. The car was getting faster as the race went on, and we kept getting better. To have our race ended by a poor officiating call, trying to restart a race in the green while it's raining, is just really unfortunate."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team All Natural Snapple): "The Snapple car had a bent right rear from the (Mike) Conway incident, trying to miss Conway earlier. I was just trying to bring it home. I was basically a bystander in the middle of the racetrack, I didn't move my line and I think (Tomas) Scheckter came across my front and took me and Tony (Kanaan) out. I had nowhere to go. I would have let them by but I had no idea. But congrats to Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and his crew on their win."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/HVM Racing): "It was a crazy race. I think this track is one of the toughest ovals that we go to. It think it was really important to get the monkey off our back from all that we went through. The Nuclear Clean Air Energy car was pretty good. It was pretty easy to drive and the team gave me a good car. It was just crazy at the end. But that's racing."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): "That was definitely my mistake. I got on the throttle and it came around. I take full responsibility for that one and the mess that it created. I was one of many people who thought that we shouldn't be going green. I was like 'what are we doing? What are they doing' I left it in first gear and not getting traction. I'm one to finish races and be smart and get through it all, but it was slippery out there. "
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske): "The Guidepoint Systems car turned some fast laps out there today. It's unfortunate that we got caught in some turbulence early in the race and ended up spinning the car and hitting the wall, which cost us a lot of laps. The No. 3 Team Penske crew did a great job of fixing the car and getting us back out on the track. Our car was definitely a top-10 car today, it just didn't work out for us. Now, we'll look ahead and move on to the next race in Sonoma."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental): "It was certainly a difficult race out there and a tough weekend overall, but I'm proud of our effort on the Penske Truck Rental team. We were fighting to be in the top-five all day but we had a tough last restart - we just got stuck on the bottom of the track and it was really tough to recover after that. The race never should've gone back to green at the end there as the conditions were just too poor. We did the best we could today and we came out of it with a top-10 finish. We'll take it and move on to Sonoma."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "I guess Dario (Franchitti) got turned around or got loose and spun to the inside of the track. Obviously the yellow was going to come out so I just checked up. I didn't know if Dario was going to spin back onto the track so I moved up to the middle a little bit and then I just kind of got cleaned out by EJ (Viso). It's frustrating because we were having a really good day. Our car was really good at the end of a run. We were on the lead lap and looking pretty good. I'm frustrated for the guys; they worked really hard. And for the National Guard, they had a lot of people out here as well."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Nikon): "He (Takuma Sato) kept coming up and I don't know what he was going to do. He had a very clear view of where I was and he kept coming up. We had a good race car overall and we were strong all weekend. It is really unfortunate for Team Target. He started coming up into me before the restart. I really don't know what he was thinking."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "It's a shame. We struggled a bit this weekend, but the whole Bowers & Wilkins Sam Schmidt team did a good job to recover. We seemed to have a good car early on and made up some positions. Then we lost the balance and the car went really loose and we lost positions. At the end, we had a problem with the exhaust and that burned the bodywork on the engine of the car. It's a shame for the whole team."
NEW HAMPSHIRE 100 POST-RACE NOTES:
· This is Josef Newgarden's fifth win of season and his fifth win in Firestone Indy Lights. Newgarden has also won at St. Petersburg, Indianapolis, Iowa, Edmonton -2.
· Newgarden's margin of victory of one lap is the second time a driver has lapped the field in Firestone Indy Lights. Thiago Medeiros of Sam Schmidt Motorsports lapped the field at Phoenix in March 2004.
· Jorge Goncalvez finished second, his best finish in Firestone Indy Lights. It Goncalvez' second podium in 2011. He finished third at Milwaukee.
· Duarte Ferreira finished third, his first podium in Firestone Indy Lights. His previous best finish was fifth at Iowa.
· Gustavo Yacaman finished fourth, his sixth top-five finish in the last seven races.
· Esteban Guerrieri finished fifth, his seventh top-five finish in 11 starts.
NEW HAMPSHIRE 100 POST-RACE QUOTES:
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 11 Copart/Score Big/Robo Pong/SSM, winner New Hampshire 100): "What a day. This weekend turned out to be more than we thought it could be. I'm very, very happy for the whole team. It's unfortunate with what happened with Esteban (Guerrieri). It's tough to see that with a teammate. It's not easy. We're pushing hard and we're trying to win this championship. It's not an easy job for either of us with the situation that we have."
JORGE GONCALVEZ (No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing Special, finished second): "I am very happy today to get my first second place finish in the Firestone Indy Lights. This is a very competitive series with a group of talented drivers. I definitely like the short ovals and I had good results at Milwaukee and now here. Team Belardi worked very hard to get my car ready for this race and think about what we needed for this oval and to work in the traffic. We were slow in the traffic at times and it was really difficult at this track. I was trying to use my same race line and then when I passed my teammate Anders Krohn I was a lot faster. I saw a yellow flag and then I was able to catch Gustavo Yacamen. I knew that I needed a good restart and I was able to get a jump on it. I passed him on the first lap after the restart. I was very happy with the car and the way it was running at the end."
DUARTE FERREIRA (No. 28 Bryan Herta Autosport, finished third): "This was a very good day because this is my first season in the Firestone Indy Lights and I was able to achieve my goal of getting a podium. I am only 18 years old and this is a very competitive series to race in. I have finished in the top-ten seven times but the team has put a lot of work into the cars and it is better. Today I had a problem with a lot of understeer, but it was a good race and I am pleased with the outcome. I was very concentrated on getting a podium and I want to thank my sponsors, families and friends for helping make today possible."
GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No. 2 TMR/Tuvacol/Xtreme Coil Drilling, finished fourth): "I'm really disappointed especially after we got from last to second. On the restarts the Schmidt guys, Bryan (Clauson) went high, and my car worked really well up high, and it took all the air away from me. I'm really annoyed at Car No. 4 (Goncalvez) for his reckless driving out there. He almost took me out. We had a couple of close calls out there. I'm just disappointed."
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, finished fifth): "At least we finished the race after a spin. Normally when you spin on an oval, you don't finish the race. We saved some points. It was an interesting race. We had a similar pace with Josef and I was just waiting for traffic and we got side by side a couple of times and I had my chances. We also didn't want to do any silly things. The important thing was to not make contact with a teammate. Then, I got stuck behind Yacaman for several laps. He let Josef by but then not me. When he let me get by him, the spin came because I decided to push more. It caught me by surprise that the rear came around. Recovering to finish fifth was good. It wasn't what I wanted, but it was good. There are three races left and still a lot to achieve."
The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 28 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be televised live at 4 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is Baltimore 100 on Sept. 4 at the Streets of Baltimore. VERSUS' coverage of the Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres will air at 4 p.m. on Aug. 17.