24 June 2012
Hunter-Reay doubles-up in the Iowa night-time
A round of green flag pit stops ensued around lap 155, with the exception of Dixon and Briscoe who had opted to go off-sync under the previous caution. Even so, Dixon was forced to come onto pit lane for fuel on lap 176, handing over the lead of the race to Briscoe in the process.
Before Briscoe could come in for his own stop, there was the opportune yellow that the Penske team had been hoping for: unfortunately, Briscoe himself was the cause of the yellow when he was tipped into a spin by Josef Newgarden. Briscoe had been slow on his now-worn tyres while Newgarden was much faster albeit a lap down on fresh rubber, and the rookie simply miscalculated the closing rate on the race leader, sending them both spinning up into the wall at turn 2.
"He was coming out on tyres with stickers about two seconds a lap quicker, and we were going down the straight," he said. "I went low early in the straight to show him that I was giving him the high line and when we got there he just never lifted and just came barreling in.
"It's disappointing, my spotter didn't have time to tell me that that's where he was going, I don't think anyone saw that coming," he added. "He's coming from way too far back there, it's too late in the corner to make a pass like that. So it's disappointing, but he's a rookie and he'll learn from it. It's a shame because I think on fuel we were in position to win the thing."
Newgarden admitted that he had been caught out by Briscoe changing to the lower line in preparation for a pit stop. "Briscoe was working that top lane like he wanted to be up in the middle of the top, and that was fine," he said. "I went low on the entry and then he kinda slowed down and started coming low as well.
"I actually tried to get out of it because he started coming low and I mean I couldn't even get out of it in time. I tried to go below the yellow to avoid it and even brake, there was just not enough there really. Really caught me off guard too, I was not trying to do anything silly or rushed," he insisted.
The one driver in a position to benefit from the fourth caution of the night was Scott Dixon, who had just pitted and was able to stay out and reassume the lead while everyone else pitted. Andretti, Castroneves, Hunter-Reay, Kanaan and Hinchcliffe made up the rest of the top six, with Pagenaud still impressively holding on to seventh place.
Andretti Autosport was looking in a stgong position to challenge for a 1-2-3 podium lockout, but those hopes went up in carbon fibre shards a lap after the green came out, when James Hinchcliffe's GoDaddy.com car got loose in traffic on cold tyres and twisted round into contact with the wall at turn 4.
"We've been understeering all night, which is sort of the weird thing," he said about the crash. "Snapped once, snapped twice almost got it and then it went around. I feel bad for the GoDaddy guys, obviously the cars are running really well and I thought we had a good shot at winning this thing, and I just feel bad for the guys on the team."
The next restart attempt was on lap 204, with Dixon still leading the same usual suspects to the green flag. This time there were no hitches, and even though Alex Tagliani once again slowed and pulled to the infield with a sick car for the second time of the night he did so without triggering another caution.
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