Milwaukee Mile news 2009-05-23

Driver Quotes From IndyCar Series Regarding Indy To Milwaukee Transition, Four Lap Qualifying At The Milwaukee Mile Compiled by Mile Historian Steve Zautke in Indianapolis West Allis, Wis. (May 23, 2009) -- The Milwaukee Mile is considered ...

Driver Quotes From IndyCar Series Regarding Indy To Milwaukee Transition, Four Lap Qualifying At The Milwaukee Mile

Compiled by Mile Historian Steve Zautke in Indianapolis

West Allis, Wis. (May 23, 2009) -- The Milwaukee Mile is considered a short oval with handling a key to success. Milwaukee Mile Historian Steve Zautke is in Indianapolis and interviewed several drivers regarding the transition to The Milwaukee Mile after spending a month at the IndyCar Series® largest track, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Last year was also the first time for four-lap average qualifying at The Mile for the IndyCar Series to determine the starting line-up in true Indianapolis tradition. Driver comments on the difficulty of four quick miles is an interesting read, below.

First, some interesting insight from Marco Andretti, who scored his first-ever IndyCar Series pole last year at The Milwaukee Mile. This from his exclusive column in Racer Magazine, used with permission, found at: www.racer.com/2009/05/exclusive-column-marco-andretti-on-the-indy -500-2/ "It's hard to look ahead of Indy at this point in time -- it's just so dominant in a driver's life for a month. But let's talk Milwaukee, where we took pole position last year.

"I think it's a drivers' track and, like Indy, it's another track that puts a premium on car setup. It's not like the superspeedways with their high banking which automatically glue a car to the track and help mask any deficiencies in its balance. Being virtually flat, Milwaukee is a super-tough track to get right but it rewards you when you do.

"Unfortunately, we screwed up last year: we got it perfect for qualifying and missed by a Milwaukee Mile on race day. We basically tried to race our qualifying setup! The reason we were so aggressive was based on the theory that, given that we were on pole, we figured we'd be out front, running in clean air a lot of the time. Well forget it. To work around there, the car needs to understeer like crazy at the start of a stint, and the car was actually perfectly balanced at the start of the race, so I knew I was going to be screwed by oversteer by the end of the stint. Sure enough--

"The good thing is that you put that in your memory box, you put it down to experience. So now we know we're just a couple of turns of front wing or a right-rear spring away from having a really good racecar, so I'm really looking forward to going back there.

The remaining quotes below have been compiled by The Milwaukee Mile, and are free-to-use for media outlets. We hope you find this information beneficial in your coverage of the May 30-31 ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 IndyCar Series event weekend at The Milwaukee Mile.

This is the third straight year for the IndyCar Series to compete at The Milwaukee Mile the Sunday after the Indianapolis 500. It will be the unparalleled 52nd year The Mile follows Indy on the schedule.

How does a driver transition from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile slightly banked with four separate turns) to the Milwaukee Mile (1.0-mile 'flat' oval)?

Graham Rahal, qualified 2nd in his debut Mile event in 2008 -- "The toughest parts is getting used to--the whole length of that track (1.0 mile) is almost the equal distance of the front straightaway at Indy (5/8 of a mile) that's a whole different feeling. For a lot of guys who are used to doing it, it's not that big of a deal. For me, it's a bit of a challenge but I'm looking forward to it. You have to adapt to driving the cars there, the cars are so neutral to be fast there. From the standpoint that the corners are sharper there you got to have a car that can turn to be fast. That's tough."

Justin Wilson, finishes of 11th, then 4th, then 2nd in three Champ Car Mile events; finished 7th in '08 Mile IndyCar Series event after Indy 500 debut the week before -- "The scaling and the sizing (from Indy to The Mile) changes so much, it just blew me away the first time. It takes awhile to get your head around that. I'll be much better prepared this year to deal with that, the speed, the scaling, it's quite a challenge to adjust. "

Dan Wheldon, Mile finishes since IndyCar Series race date moved to the race after Indy: 4th last year, 3rd in 2007 -- "I enjoy it a lot, I think Indy is very good practice for Milwaukee. You get that same type of feel. That's what great about Milwaukee; you got two lanes you can overtake cars very easily if you have a good car and they're struggling. Qualifying there is very intense. If you're loose, you're hoping for rain there (smiling)."

How tough is doing a four-lap qualifying run at The Milwaukee Mile?

Vitor Meira, '08 Milwaukee: started last due to contact in qualifying, finished 22nd after a spectacular late-race accident -- "Whew! Last year I did a three lap run, fourth lap I crashed. It was very windy, so I was very loose through (turns) one and two, made it through three laps and I ran out of tires. It got loose. It's tough, very, very tough. Milwaukee is definitely the toughest one besides Indianapolis. Not only do you have to maintain a high average (speed) which is very hard you have to be ready so soon. You go out a bit, you come by once, come by again and you're taking the green flag. You have to be on it. You really need tire temperatures. You need your tires warm, your tire pressures to be up, you don't have time to do that in one and half laps. On smaller tracks, which Milwaukee is the hardest one, its gets really hairy. It's not that you work more, you have to believe your car. The hardest thing is to believe the car will do it. Believe, have faith, everything is there. The tires are up to temp, tire pressures will be low, but hope you're car doesn't bottom out you have to believe in so many things. The rest of the laps, it depends on your car because you know what is coming. It's a hard thing to do."

Ryan Hunter-Reay, led every lap of 2004 Mile Champ Car event from the pole, finished 15th at The Mile last year -- "Last year we didn't have the best balance it wasn't on edge the whole time. Whereas in when I was there in '04 (in Champ Car), we had one-lap qualifying, the car was loose, fast, I qualified on pole, it was loose the whole time. That one lap was long enough, it felt like four laps. So if you have a loose, fast racecar it can be pretty hairy four-laps. On lap one the car will usually go to push over the span of a four-lap run. (We) set up the car to be extremely neutral to maintain the proper balance, so at the end of the four laps the car has the proper balance, just about neutral. So the opening laps are the most on edge, the hairiest laps, you're not sure if it's going to swap ends on you."

Justin Wilson -- It's tough, it's a difficult place. It's hard enough doing one lap there right on the edge, to do four you got to make sure the car is right you just can't wing it. It's all about getting your line right, you have to be absolutely perfect on the line to get through there to carry the speed. If you get the line right, you will avail at each end of the track. It's definitely a challenge to balance the car and get the feel you're looking for. Turn one is always is very difficult it feels like it tightens up on exit you go in fine and then you're way in too early and too shallow and all of the sudden the track tightens up then the last thing you need is to turn the wheel more in two. It's a tough place."

Dan Wheldon -- Milwaukee's tough. It's one of those things where, normally it's that first (qualifying lap) after the green flag is the hairy one because to be quick you have to be real on edge there -particularly that first one. Even the second one, however the third and fourth it'll settle down. Well you pray that it will settle down. Once you've done the first one quick the others are easier. It's very difficult nowadays because it's so close. You can't afford to leave much on the table. Obviously you don't' want to put the car in the wall. It's on the edge. Milwaukee, its flat, no banking, it's tough, it's incredible. I think, if you consider Indianapolis as the hardest place to put four very good laps together, then Milwaukee is a close second. You're asking a lot of the car right off the bat. The tire temps, are not to their optimum. Thanks to Firestone they come up very quickly. However, it doesn't matter how good the tire is, they're still not up to temp on the first lap like they will be on the second lap. You're asking a lot of the car. You can make the car more comfortable for your first lap, but typically the times will tail off. It's all about getting a good balance. "

Graham Rahal - "Milwaukee is tough, it's extremely tough because you're so on edge all of the time. You're trying to be completely flat, full throttle all away around so that's a lot of g-forces and a lot of load. To make that happen, the car is very nervous, very neutral. The car always feels incredibly fast because you're coming from here (Indianapolis) which is very open and the speeds are very high. Then you go to Milwaukee where it's very tight, it's a whole different feeling."

-credit: mm

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Graham Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Marco Andretti , A.J. Foyt , Vitor Meira