Dan Wheldon celebrated his 30th birthday by winning the Iowa Corn Indy 250 on Sunday, his second victory of the season.
Wheldon took the lead out of a caution flag with 60 laps to go after making the risky decision not to pit. The move paid off, as Wheldon held off Andretti Green drivers Hideki Mutoh and Marco Andretti down the stretch.
Wheldon’s win gave Chip Ganassi five victories in nine IRL races this season. Wheldon plans to donate his winnings to the victims of Iowa’s recent floods and tornados.
Mutoh, the current leader in the Bombadier Rookie of the Year standings, picked up his first top-five finish. Andretti had his best finish since also placing third in the Indy 500.
The first 190 laps were essentially a duel between Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, both IRL veterans in search of their first win this season. But that all changed when Enrique Bernoldi spun out, drawing a yellow flag.
Wheldon, Mutoh and Danica Patrick decided to forgo new tires and fuel and came out first, second and third respectively. Patrick quickly fell back, while Wheldon opened up a lead over Mutoh he never relinquished.
Kanaan then spun out and slammed into the wall with fewer than 40 laps to go. The crash kept Kanaan from a top-five finish for just the second time in seven starts. He finished 18th.
Castroneves also finished in the back of the pack. He was forced to change tires on Lap 233 and placed 14th — by far his worst finish of the season.
Wheldon, who started in third after rain washed out qualifying, also won at Kansas Speedway back on April 27.