James Hinchcliffe is on a roll in 2013, becoming the only three-time winner in the IZOD IndyCar Series so far this season after adding victory in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by DEKALB at Iowa Speedway to earlier wins at St Petersburg in March and Sao Paulo in May.
The Canadian was on stunning form right from the start of the race, which was delayed slightly by earlier rain in the region that left track officials working on 'weepers' before the racing could get started.
Once the green flag was shown, Hinchcliffe immediately blasted his way past pole sitter Will Power and set about opening a big lead on the rest of the field, which he kept through two early cautions - one on lap 38 for his team mate Ryan Hunter-Reay clipping the back of Graham Rahal's #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car and losing his front wing in the process, and a second on lap 138 when Alex Tagliani glanced the outside wall and spun the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport car.
In the early stages of the race it looked as though the only driver with anything to rival Hinchcliffe's package was Ed Carpenter, but the second stint of the race wasn't so kind to the #20 and he dropped back, with another of Hinchcliffe's team mates - Marco Andretti in the Andretti Autosport #25 car - taking up the chase in second place.
Andretti's supporting role proved shortlived and the real threat to Hinchcliffe's win emerged from further back, as Graham Rahal moved his way inexorably forward through traffic - including banging wheels in a dramatic encounter with Oriol Servià in the #4 Panther Racing National Guard car - on his way to claiming second place and starting to press for the lead.
A subsequent debris caution gave Rahal his best opportunity to move to the front, and he was indeed credited with leading lap 160. Hinchcliffe dug deep and repulsed the attach to take point once more, and Rahal never again had as good a chance to get around the #27. It proved to be the only time Hinchliffe was bested on track all afternoon, other than during pit stop cycles. He led for a total of 224 laps at Iowa where previously he'd only led 99 laps in his entire IndyCar career.
With Rahal dispatched, a new threat to Hinch's lead was in the ascendency: Ryan Hunter-Reay, having earlier fallen to the back of the field as a result of losing his front win on the back of the #15, had been methodically working his way back up the order and by the time the final round of green flag pit stops began with just under 60 of the 250 laps of the race remaining he was into third place and running strongly.
Hunter-Reay got the better of Rahal on pit lane and emerged in second place once the late stoppers that included Ed Carpenter, Tony Kanaan and Justin Wilson completed their stops some 20 laps later. That gave Hunter-Reay just a little over ten minutes to attempt to take the lead from Hinchcliffe, but the two hit some late lapped traffic that finally sealed the outcome; Hinchcliffe was able to get by while Hunter-Reay was held up just enough to allow the #27 to be released to a winning margin of one and a half seconds at the line.
Despite missing out on the win, second place means Hunter-Reay closes the gap on current championship leader Helio Castroneves to single fingers, after the Brazilian had a quiet but solid run to eighth place once place ahead of Marco Andretti, who remains in third place in the championship standings ahead of race winner James Hinchcliffe.
Further back it had been a wretched Sunday for both Dario Franchitti in the Ganassi #10 and Simona de Silvestro in the KV Racing Technology #78, both of whom had failed to get on top of the handling issues that had beset them in practice in qualifying and soon well off the lead lap as a consequence.
Also hitting problems during the race were AJ Foyt Racing's Takuma Sato and Dale Coyne Racing's Ana Beatriz, both of who suffered apparent engine failures. It was particularly mortifying for Sato who had already taken a ten-place starting grid penalty before the start after having to replace his Honda engine overnight; however the new unit never seemed to bed in and Sato was never a factor in the race even before his eventual retirement on lap 162.
See full race results from Iowa
See current championship standings