INDYCAR SERIES Iowa Corn Indy 250Final
Wheldon wins Iowa Corn Indy 250Jun 22, 2008 - 8:44 PM NEWTON, Iowa (Ticker) -- Dan Wheldon celebrated his 30th birthday in style, winning Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250.
It was the second win of the season and 15th career for Wheldon, who beat Andretti Green Racing rookie Hideki Mutoh by 0.1430 of a second.
Immediately after the race, Wheldon and Target Chip Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon said they planned to donate their winnings to the victim's of Iowa's recent floods and tornadoes.
"My wife and I drove from Chicago to here and we saw the flooding and it was just heartbreaking," Wheldon said. "I thought it was something that Scott and I should do, and fortunately we were able to."
Wheldon and his crew used a risky tactic to secure the win, opting not to pit coming out of a caution with 60 laps remaining. The move paid off and gave Target Chip Ganassi Racing its fifth win of the season.
"What a great day for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and a great birthday present for myself," Wheldon said.
Marco Andretti was third, followed by points leader Dixon, who started on the pole after qualifying was rained out.
Dixon increased his lead atop the standings to 48 points over Helio Castroneves, who pitted late and placed 14th for his worst finish of the season. Wheldon, who won at Kansas Speedway in April, moved within 49 points of Dixon.
"Early on, the car was definitely not working the way I wanted," Dixon said. "It was very loose, especially on the low line. I started using the high line and it came together better. The high line was definitely the choice of the day."
It also was a disappointing day for Tony Kanaan, who crashed into the wall with under 40 laps remaining, leading to an 18th-place finish. The incident kept the Andretti Green Racing driver from a top-five finish for just the second time in seven starts.
Kanaan is fourth in the standings, 100 points back of Dixon. Mutoh is 117 points behind in fifth.
Kanaan and Castroneves, both searching for their first wins of the season, battled for the lead over the first 190 laps. But after Enrique Bernoldi spun out, the race drastically changed.
While Kanaan and Castroneves headed for the pits, Wheldon, Mutoh and Danica Patrick decided to gamble and forgo new tires and more fuel.
The trio of Wheldon, Mutoh and Patrick came out first, second and third, respectively. Patrick never was able to make a serious charge before falling back, while Wheldon slowly increased his lead over Mutoh as he reached Victory Lane.
Wheldon and Mutoh also were helped by two other caution periods - lap 196 for light contact by the No. 19 car driven by Mario Moraes and lap 212 for heavy contact by the No. 11 car driven by Kanaan in Turn 1.
Leading the Bombadier Rookie of the Year standings, Mutoh enjoyed his best career finish.
Andretti, who was second here in the inaugural race in 2007, said the key to the finish was his inability to overtake Mutoh.
"If I had the speed to get around Hideki, I think I would have had the speed to get around Dan," Andretti said. "Regardless, it was a great day for Andretti Green."
A.J. Foyt IV finished fifth while Patrick placed sixth.