Ryan Hunter-Reay wasn’t to be denied as he raced to victory in the rain- delayed Milwaukee IndyFest presented by XYQ at the famed Milwaukee Mile. The eighth race of the IZOD IndyCar Series action took place Saturday afternoon at the iconic track.
Driving the Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet fielded by Andretti Autosport, the Florida resident gave the accomplished team a double victory as team owner Michael Andretti, who also is president and chief executive officer of Andretti Sports Marketing, promoted the race.
I was just trying to hang on to it. Hanging on for the last two restarts, I don’t need that. It gave me gray hair.
Andretti, a five-time winner at Milwaukee, gave the command to fire the engines and announced the race would be returning to Milwaukee on Father’s Day weekend in 2013 -- June 14 and 15.
For Hunter-Reay, he won for the second time at Milwaukee and scored for the fourth time in his IndyCar career. He has been the top finishing American driver in the series points for the last two seasons and he’s the only driver to gain victories in IndyCar, CART Champ Car, Grand-Am and the American LeMans Series.
Andretti Autosport chalked up its 40th IndyCar Series victory.
Said the happy victor, “It is amazing to win this race. We would all liked to have seen more passing but the car was so busy. I was just trying to hang on to it. Hanging on for the last two restarts, I don’t need that. It gave me gray hair.
“The script was perfect. This was an Andretti Sports Marketing event, and Michael (Andretti) loves this sport (so much) and he does a lot for it. Milwaukee and IndyCar go hand-in-hand. And we won it, which is awesome.”
Said the team owner, “This is ultra-special. It is a dream to be promoting this great race and to come home with the win. Ryan (Hunter- Reay) did a great job. It was a good day for us, and it is great to be back at the Milwaukee Mile.”
Hunter-Reay finished 5.1 seconds ahead of runner-up Tony Kanaan and another two seconds ahead of James Hinchcliffe, also in an Andretti Autosport Chevrolet.
Said Kanaan, who drove the GEICO/Mouser Electronics KVRT Chevrolet, “I felt that for some reason we lost some speed during the race. I couldn’t save fuel I had to run a full mission because I didn’t have enough for the guys in front. Once we pitted and the yellow came out, they said we were good to go to the end.
“I tried on the restart (to catch Hunter-Reay), and I saw how bad Ryan wanted it, so I said you know what we will take second place. It was a great run, and we are happy with second place.” He also thanked Andretti for promoting the event.
The glib Hinchcliffe stated, “I am extremely happy, especially from where we were yesterday. Congratulations to the team for a great set-up. We changed the whole car before the race, and for us, it was a great race. The car was great, and my guys always give me a great car for race day, which is when they give the points.”
Oriol Servia and E. J. Viso completed the top-five finishers.
Sixth through 10th were Helio Castroneves, Alex Tagliani, Ed Carpenter, Graham Rahal and Rubens Barrichello.
IndyCar stalwarts Scott Dixon and Will Power finished 11th and 12th, the final cars on the lead lap.
Dixon started 21st and steadily moved his way through the field, only to be assessed with a frustrating penalty for being overly eager on a restart. Neither Dixon nor his team were advised which restart was the one in question, although it was believed it took place on a restart that was waved off.
“I don’t know what happened, and I have no idea what I did wrong,” Dixon explained afterward. “A couple restarts were crazy, and a few guys in the front need to learn how to restart a race.”
Dario Franchitti, who started from the pole, was the class of the field at the beginning but once he fell out of the top spot, he couldn’t regain the forward momentum he started out with.
The Indianapolis 500 winner led 63 laps but ended up 19th after crashing out of the race with 30 miles to go.
“I think something broke,” he said after slamming into a wall. A lap earlier he brushed wheels with Ryan Briscoe, but didn’t know if that incident led to his downfall or not. He also admitted his car wasn’t handling well for a while.
In the IndyCar point standings, Power continues to lead with 274 markers. Hinchcliffe moved up to second 31 behind with Dixon trailing by 35. Hunter-Reay holds down fourth 41 in arrears, and Castroneves is in fifth 43 off the pace.
Editor's note: After the race, INDYCAR President of Competition and IZOD IndyCar Series race director Beaux Barfield said that a "glitch in technology" led to officials issuing Scott Dixon a drive through penalty. He continued, "We have informed the Ganassi team of this error and Race Control is taking every step necessary to address it going forward."