9 July 2012
Hunter-Reay hat-trick shakes up standings
Newgarden admitted that he had a share of the blame for the incident. "Unfortunately at the end I attempted a pass on Pagenaud that l don't think I should have tried. I went into the tyres and that was the end of our fantastic run today."
It was at least a quick clean up, and race control were relieved to be able to restart the race with three laps to go in order to finish the race under green. Except that it didn't work out like that: cautions breed cautions, and in this case it was twins.
The first incident was at turn 1, when Sebastien Bourdais and Mike Conway pressed Charlie Kimball for second place at the restart, going three-wide into the tight corner. Conway tapped the back of Kimball's car, who in turn knocked Bourdais out wide and nose-first into the tyre wall. He was joined on the scene by Rubens Barrichello, who seemed to be pirouetting down the main straight in an entirely private incident of his own - although the Brazilian was able to spin his car around and exit the area without a problem while the Frenchman was stuck fast.
That alone would likely have triggered the third caution, but events in the run down in turn 3 sealed it. The cars spread out down the straight, with Ryan Briscoe finding he was being pushed wider and wider by the gaggle of cars getting frisky down the inside. Unfortunately for Briscoe, he didn't realise that Dario Franchitti had been making a play for the outside line at the same time: Briscoe squeezed the #10 hard against the wall until finally contact was inevitable and the two scrunched together down the concrete.
"We finally got the yellow we needed on the last restart," sighed Franchitti. "There were massive amounts of marbles and cars going three-wide, and I went for a gap that closed. It was just one of those things today."
In a sort of sympathetic panic, the three cars of Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud and Ed Carpenter running further back ended up piling into one another at slow speed. Little damage was done to the cars, but it was a mess for the track workers to pull everything apart and there was no question that a full course caution was required - and that there would be no time to restart. The race would end under caution after all, for the second race in succession.
And the winner would be the same as last time, too: Ryan Hunter-Reay had stayed out of trouble in that last two incidents and commanded the restart with assurance to retain the lead ahead of Kimball, who managed held on to second place ahead of Mike Conway who came away with the best result of the year for AJ Foyt Racing in third place.
"We saved the tyres and gapped them at the end," said Hunter-Reay. "Three in a row. I don't even know what to think about this. It shows that this team can get it done on all venues."
Kimball meanwhile gave the credit to his Ganassi crew: "The car was great all day. All I had to do was turn the wheel and press the pedals," he said, adding that the plan was to get used to podium finishes from here on.
As for Mike Conway, he revealed that he and the AJ Foyt crew had only finally managed to finish dialling in the car in the Sunday morning warm-up session.
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