Ed Carpenter threw a curveball at the field when he spun out and got clipped by Sato six laps from the finish, drawing a caution. Newgarden went in for new tires while Hinchcliffe stayed out, with the American hoping to catch Hinchcliffe if the race went green again.
It didn’t, and Hinchcliffe cruised past Iowa’s corn-inspired start-finish line in first for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports.
But it wasn’t all bad news for Newgarden, the defending champion. He moved from fourth to second in the standings behind Scott Dixon and cut his deficit to 33 points.
“I can’t complain much. It’s a tough pill to swallow to see (Hinchcliffe) go by me. We just didn’t have it at the end, and sometimes you can’t forecast that completely,” Newgarden said. “It just went away from us.”
Will Power, Newgarden’s Team Penske teammate, started on the pole. But Iowa is the only active track in the series where a pole sitter has never won a race — and it was apparent early on that that trend would continue.
Newgarden snagged the lead from Power after just 25 laps and quickly built it up to as much as 9 seconds — roughly half a lap. Newgarden even lapped Dixon after just 54 of them, and the majority of the field was already a lap down just a third of the way through the event.
The first yellow flag of the race came halfway through the event when Zach Veach brushed the wall, but Newgarden easily kept the lead on the subsequent restart. That caution allowed Hinchcliffe to get close enough to begin his takedown of Newgarden though, whose gaudy edge had evaporated.
Newgarden took his final pit stop 76 laps from the finish, and he ceded the lead to Sato for just three laps before re-establishing control. But Hinchcliffe didn’t give up — eventually slipping past Newgarden and building a big lead before the final yellow flag.
“He ran such a dominant race. I know it’s tough to fall behind at the end like that,” Hinchcliffe said of Newgarden.