IndyCar Series Milwaukee Mile Friday Report

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The Milwaukee Mile

Power Leads Opening Practice Session At Milwaukee Mile

IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power topped the opening practice session as teams began preparations for the Milwaukee 225 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, turned a lap of 21.7957 seconds (167.648 mph). His closest pursuer in the point standings, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti, was second at 167.462 mph in the No. 10 Downy car, while Helio Castroneves was third in the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems car at 167.368 mph.

Will Power, Team Penske
Will Power, Team Penske

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

Alex Tagliani and Vitor Meira were uninjured in separate incidents in Turn 4 during the session. Tagliani's team was able to repair the car and he returned to practice at the end of the session while Meira's car was too damaged to continue.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

Six different open-wheel racing series are represented this weekend at the Milwaukee Mile. Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan, both race winners at the Mile and IZOD IndyCar Series champions, have been watching the track activity this week.

"We stay at the racetrack so it's nice to see a bunch of different cars and the drivers coming up," said Kanaan, who's driving the No. 82 GEICO KV Racing Technology-Lotus entry. "I think it's great not just for us but also for the fans so they can come watch everybody race this weekend."

Added Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car: "From a category that starts out with kids all the way up to IndyCars is a great weekend for all. And being the Father's Day weekend it's cool for fathers and their kids to spend some time together at the track and see different kinds of racing. Some tracks that we go to, apart from our race there's not much going on so it's nice to have a lot going on and different kinds of fomulaes you can see."

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A few minutes after climbing from the No. 82 GEICO KV Racing Technology-Lotus car for the initial practice session of the weekend on the Milwaukee Mile, Tony Kanaan climbed in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater to treat three-time Ironman triathlon champion Chris Lieto to a high-speed ride.

Kanaan, who will compete in the Ford Ironman World Championship (a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mike bike and 26.2-mile run consecutively) in Hawaii in October, and Lieto hooked up a day earlier to test their Trek bicycles on the oval.

"It was crazy. For me, the most surprising thing was how fast you're going in the corners," Lieto said. "I thought there was no way the car could stay on the track with the force going in."

Lieto, the current U.S. Ironman 70.3 champion, has set more than 50 bike course records on five continents over his 14-year career. He said Kanaan, who competed in the 70.3 World Championship in November in Clearwater, Fla., will fare well.

"It will be challenging for sure, but I told him that he has an advantage because the racing is very much in the mind, and the Ironman comes down to the mental side of it," said Lieto, who trains about 500 miles on the bike alone leading up to a triathlon. "Along with the work he does for the racing, he has the mental edge and the ability to push himself through when it gets difficult.

"I think he'll really surprise himself and do well."

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How does the Mile rate with drivers?

"Either you love it or you just want to get through the weekend," said Kanaan, who has won twice here (2006 and '07) and has started from the last row (1998 and '99).

Dixon, who termed the Mile "a driver's track," pointed out that in 2004 he destroyed two cars in a total of four laps.

"This is a race if you win you feel really rewarded," Dixon said. "When you get out (of the car) you feel like you've had a long, hard day's work and you've achieved something."

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Conquest Racing's Sebastian Saavedra will make his initial IZOD IndyCar Series appearance at the Mile. He finished third in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights race. ... The track is 1.015 miles for the purposes of INDYCAR Timing & Scoring.

Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

DAY 1 QUOTEBOOK:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, fastest of the day): "The Verizon car felt really good today. We just did a full-tank run at the end of practice to see what the car was like over a stint and we made no changes. The car feels really good." (About racing at Milwaukee): "This is the oval that I've been to the most, and it's a very fun place to drive. It can be a hard place to pass in the race, but if you have a good car it's a great place."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: (No. 10 Downy, second-fastest): "We changed the car significantly from the test here at Milwaukee and it has been better for us. I think the track has lost some grip since the two previous years I have been here, especially on the black asphalt. It was good to have time to test here so we could see what we were working with. It was a good start today and hopefully we can keep that up over the weekend. The racing is very close here and competition is tough."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske, third-fastest): "So far so good with the Guidepoint Systems Team Penske car. The test we did here really helped us and gave us a good place to start. Today was just the first practice so we still need to get with our teammates and figure out what we need to do to improve. Hopefully we can continue this performance tomorrow and have a solid qualifying result."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "It seems that we are right where we thought we would be after the test. We just seem to be a little bit behind the front, front guys like Mr. (Will) Power and the Ganassi cars but we are very close and just need to make a couple of good decisions. If that happens we have a chance to put the blue Telemundo car up with them. It's great to have the amount of practice we have here. It good to come to an oval where we can actually try different things on the car and have real practice time and not just half-an-hour, then qualify and race. It's good for us since we haven't done a ton of testing. Tomorrow the plan is to try to get closer to those guys."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, sixth-fastest): "Today's practice session was productive for the Venom car. The racecar is pretty good and I think we'll be strong on Sunday. We just have to find a bit more in the qualifying car and we can be a pole contender tomorrow."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Transitions Adaptive Lenses Team Penske): "We still have a bit of work to do. The Transitions Team Penske car definitely looks good out there and we were able to do a lot of race preparation work in practice, but we still need to find a better balance on the set-up. We'll get there and continue to improve tomorrow for sure."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "The session was good. Obviously I haven't been here since Indy Lights in 2009 and have never been here in an Indy car. I was one of three drivers who didn't test here. We just spent time getting up to speed on this track. We had a couple of little issues that held us back a little bit in the middle part there but we got the car sorted in the end. Oriol's pace shows what we're capable of as a team. I know there is two-tenths (of a second) by just going to bed tonight and sleeping on it and getting up tomorrow with some information to go off of. Considering we didn't run here in the test, I am really happy with the car and really happy with where we are. We will just chip away at it and hopefully we will put the Sprott car up there in qualifying. When you look at the schedule at Texas compared to the schedule here, if I was going to miss a test at one track based on the schedule, this is the one to do it at based on the amount of practice time here. We're taking full advantage of that. These short ovals are a tricky thing to get used to. Obviously running around by yourself is one thing and running around in traffic is something completely different and it takes some getting used to. We're going to have to do that at some point and get a feel for the racing. The first order is qualifying and to get the car in a good place for the start on Sunday."

Something broke on the left rear.

Alex Tagliani

ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Direct Supply Sarah Fisher Racing): "It was a disappointing start to the weekend, definitely not where we wanted to be on the speed charts, especially after testing here. We fixed some things from the test, and the car is more consistent now, but now we're just not getting it to respond. We've got some good ideas; we tried a lot of things in that session, but we just weren't able to improve it. It gets frustrating, but I'm confident with the group that we have and as hard as everyone is working, we'll get the Direct Supply car going faster for the rest of the weekend."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Schmidt Pelfrey Racing): "Something broke on the left rear, so we'll have to look at the data and see what happened. The car has virtually no damage except for a little scratch. We didn't touch anything. We should be alright."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "I was trying hard and it stepped out on me. I'm sure the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing crew will put the car together better than it was and we'll go race."

E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, ninth-fastest): "We had a limited amount of practice time today because of an electronic problem. We will continue to work our way through our program tomorrow and I'm curious to see how some of the changes will affect the car. I am sure that once we have been through our worksheet we will have a good conclusion to set up the car in the right direction for the race."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus):"The conditions were quite a bit different from the last time we were here for the test. It was better today than when we tested so were able to try a few things and step-by-step we made a good progression with the setup, but we still have a lot of work to do tomorrow."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team GoDaddy.com): "Today, we really wanted to work on qualifying, but we just didn't get the track space we needed. Unfortunately, we didn't put a lap in on our second set of tires. But, we'll hold that in our pocket until tomorrow. The GoDaddy.com car felt good driving around there. It was tight quarters, but it felt good."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "Today was OK. We were just working through a lot of changes and trying to get the DHL/Sun Drop car as comfortable as possible. I think at the end there, on the new set of tires, we got it pretty good. We just needed a clear lap to really see what we can do. But, I think we've got a good direction with the balance and that's the important thing for now."

We'll take what we did today...

JR Hildebrand

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): "I think we had a pretty solid practice session today for the GoDaddy.com car. We put down some laps and tried a few different things. We do know what we need to do to make the car better, so we have a direction. We still have two practice sessions tomorrow to fine-tune things, so I believe qualifying will be good."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "The National Guard guys worked really hard to just to get the car back out on the race track. So it was good to be able to get back out on track and we had a pretty decent first run and then decided to cut our losses with the lack of time on track and just go out and do some heavy fuel runs. Our time isn't very representative of how quick we can go although we felt OK about it considering we didn't run at all. We'll take what we did today and compare it to what we did at the test and try to make it a little bit better for tomorrow."

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The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the Milwaukee 225 on June 19 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM channel 94 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the David Hobbs 100 at the Milwaukee Mile on June 19.

-source: indycar

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Series INDYCAR
Tags castroneves, dario franchitti, izod, will power