Marco Andretti ends five-year Indy win drought
Iowa: American racer Marco Andretti won his first IndyCar race since 2006, holding off Brazil`s Tony Kanaan over the final 18 laps to capture the Iowa Corn Indy 250.
Andretti had not won in 79 races since 2006 at Sonoma and no member of the famed Andretti racing family had won on an oval course since his father Michael, now his team owner, won at Japan`s Motegi in 2000 when Marco was 13.
Andretti on Saturday passed Kanaan on the inside with 18 laps remaining and twice fought off passing attempts by the Brazilian on his way to taking the checkered flag. Kanaan was second with New Zealand`s Scott Dixon third after starting 23rd.
"There was some good racing with TK," Marco Andretti said. "I made it difficult on him. No mercy at this point. I needed it."
Kanaan was cut off sharply with eight laps remaining but took the move in stride.
"If it wasn`t for the win, we were going to talk about it," Kanaan said. "He was not going to let it go. If I was in his position I would have done the same. It was crazy at the end. I loved it."
After watching his son triumph over 250 laps around the .875-mile oval, the elder Andretti was overjoyed.
"I`m almost speechless. I`m so proud of him," Michael Andretti said. "He did a great job holding off Tony at the end."
Scotsman Dario Franchitti, who finished fifth after leading 172 laps, seized the points lead 303-283 over Australian Will Power, who crashed out early. Dixon stands third, 73 points off his Ganassi Racing teammate`s pace.
"I was fighting on oversteering car," Franchitti said. "I wasn`t thinking about points. I was thinking about winning. That`s why I almost knocked a wall down at the end."
Andretti and Franchitti traded the lead around lap 160 before going into the pits together on lap 185 just seconds before Japanese pole sitter Takuma Sato spun and crashed in the exit of turn two. Sato was unharmed.
Andretti, who had not led a prior race this year, entered the pits behind the Scotsman but left ahead of him, only to have Kanaan pass them both shortly after the restart and set up the fight with Andretti over the final 45 laps.
Sato became the first Japanese driver to start an IndyCar race on the pole, leading his second race of the season after moving up front at Brazil, but Franchitti overtook him for the lead after the first few laps.
As Power was leaving his pit area after a refueling stop on lap 26, his car struck the left side of the car of US rookie Charlie Kimball, trying to enter his own pit area. Power had to return to pit row to repair a damaged nose cone.
Power returned in 23rd, but worse was to come for the Aussie, who skidded out of control in the second turn and struck the outer wall rear first.
A bent steering system from the pit row mishap contributed to the crash of Power, who was found to have suffered a mild concussion, meaning he will need medical approval to compete in the next race at Toronto.
"I didn`t have a concussion or anything, just a little bit of a headache," Power said after an exam at the track hospital. "Rung my bell a bit. That hurt. Probably shouldn`t have been out there with a damaged car. That`s not good."