NEWTON, Iowa—Tough night on Friday at Iowa Speedway but A.J. Foyt’s team soldiered through it.
Going into the weekend, Tony Kanaan, who returned to the cockpit of the No. 14 after a six-week hiatus, knew it would be tough. Charlie Kimball, coming off a top-10 at Road America last week, also knew.
One hour of practice on the banked 7/8-mile oval and then the teams headed into qualifying with Lap 1 determining the grid for tonight’s 250-lapper and Lap 2 setting the grid for tomorrow night’s race.
Both Kanaan and Kimball posted their best laps on Lap 2. Tonight, Kanaan started 19th in the Bryant Chevrolet while Kimball started 15th in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet.
In the first stint of the race, Kimball appeared to be holding his own, positioned between a charging Simon Pagenaud (who started last) and Scott Dixon (who started 17th). However, a couple of problems on pit stops and the car not getting any better with the setting sun resulted in Kimball not being able to keep pace. He finished the race in 17th.
“I think it was a disappointing night for both AJ Foyt Racing cars,” Kimball offered. “The No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet was not what I wanted to feel underneath me but I know the engineers will do really good work making it better tonight. I felt like everyone did a good job with what we had. Today was busy, practice, qualify and straight into the race—especially racing what you qualify. We had to compromise on gears, ride heights and setups and stuff but it was the same for everyone and we just didn’t maximize it. But we’ll review it and be ready to go for another 250 laps tomorrow night.”
Kanaan had been keeping pace with Kimball on the first stint until about lap 44 when he began dropping back and complaining about the tire degradation. It was on lap 93 when his car got loose and he brushed the wall, damaging the suspension. He pitted and the crew replaced the right rear toe link but he rejoined the race 19 laps down. He stayed in the race but gave up track position on restarts so as to not interfere with cars who were on the lead lap. He placed 18th, retiring on lap 232 when he could not longer gain any positions by staying in the race.
“It was a shame,” Kanaan said quietly. “I think we had a consistent car but the tire deg for us was more than other people, so we need to figure out what’s causing it. It’s on the setup. We’re pretty decent halfway through the stint and then the car will fall off really quick and in one of those I got loose, and not to spin I went wide, got in the marbles, brushed the wall a little bit, so that cost us 18 laps, but track position is really important so we have that for tomorrow. I think we have overnight to think about it and another hour session tomorrow to try to make the tires last a little bit longer and then go from there. I truly believe we have a top 10 car for tomorrow.”
The crew repairs the right rear toe-link during the race.
There were a couple of scary moments in the race, including an accident with Will Power who had a front wheel come off which sent him hard into the outside wall. He escaped uninjured.
The scariest moment came on the restart after Power’s accident. Colton Herta was running eighth when the re-start was called off which Herta said he didn’t hear that from his team. He gassed it when everyone else was slowing down and ran over Rinus Veekay. Herta's car launched into the air and the catch fence on the main straight. before landing in the track. Fortunately, everyone escaped injury.
Colton Herta (left) gets airborne after hitting Rinus Veekay on an aborted re-start.
Simon Pagenaud, who started last, and Dixon both capitalized on the caution period by pitting under yellow and gained valuable track position on those who had pitted under green. Pagenaud won his first race of the season and Dixon finished second. Rounding out the top five were: Oliver Askew, Pato O'Ward and Josef Newgarden..
Tomorrow night’s race will be broadcast live on NBCSN starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.