Josef Newgarden looked on course to repeat his crushing 2016 Iowa win until it all unravelled in the final stint.
But James Hinchcliffe began to work his way rapidly through the field from his 11th place on the grid. The Schmidt driver looked a threat on pure pace. But he tended to suffer higher degradation towards the end of the typically 80-lap long stints on the 1.4-kilometre track.
A mid-race caution period caused by Zach Veach offered the few drivers on the lead lap the opportunity to pit at low cost. After the restart Hinchcliffe picked off Spencer Pigot, who was having an otherwise superb first Iowa appearance for Ed Carpenter Racing. He then drew quickly onto Newgarden’s tail.
Hinchcliffe’s caused was aided by Power, who was now on the verge of falling a lap down. As Power fought to stay on the lead lap, Newgarden was briefly delayed, and Hinchcliffe brilliantly capitalised.
However a late twist came when Ed Carpenter lost control of his car and was clipped by Takuma Sato. The contact had the beneficial effect of keeping Carpenter out of the barrier, but debris on track forced a late caution period.
This threw the race leaders’ strategic situation into disarray. A final burst on fresh tyres could offer the opportunity to make up positions, but with the laps ticking down behind the pace car it wasn’t clear how many laps of green flag running they would get.
When the answer came, it was zero. But that came too late for the likes of Newgarden and Robert Wickens, who had already gambled on pitting for fresh rubber. Hinchcliffe therefore took the chequered flag under caution, with Pigot promoted to second ahead of Sato, Newgarden and Wickens.
Power collected useful points for sixth ahead of Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud. Carpenter claimed ninth despite his late crash.
The Andretti team deserved a result in a sad week following the death of Dee Ann Andretti, wife of Mario and grandmother of driver Marco. However a slow pit stop for Alexander Rossi due to a stall left him 10th, and a radio-less Ryan Hunter-Reay retired with technical problems.
boutlink came in 11th ahead of Scott Dixon, who endured a frustrating day. The Ganassi driver had to cope with a gearbox problem and, late in the race, his front tyres were fitted to the incorrect sides, causing a serious handling imbalance.
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