CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: Race report

Ryan Hunter-Reay Sets New Single-Event Champ Car Record By Going Wire-to-Wire to Win on Milwaukee Mile INDIANAPOLIS (June 5, 2004) -- Last year's Champ Car event at the Milwaukee Mile resulted in what was termed a dominant performance, but ...

Ryan Hunter-Reay Sets New Single-Event Champ Car Record By Going Wire-to-Wire to Win on Milwaukee Mile

INDIANAPOLIS (June 5, 2004) -- Last year's Champ Car event at the Milwaukee Mile resulted in what was termed a dominant performance, but second-year pilot Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) came up with a new definition of the word Saturday night at Milwaukee in front of a strong race-night crowd.

Hunter-Reay rolled from the pole as night fell on the Milwaukee Mile, and immediately laid claim to the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 Presented by U.S. Bank. The Herdez driver stormed to the front on the very first lap and became the first Champ Car driver in 12 seasons to lead every lap of a series oval event, pacing a Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford record 250 laps.

He showed his strength early and often, taking just 14 laps to start lapping cars and ripping off to a 20-second lead after 50 laps to put the entire 18-car field in danger of going a lap behind. Salvation came for the field on Lap 50 in a brush with the wall that tightened not only the Milwaukee event but also the championship race as points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) hit the Turn Four wall and bent his suspension.

The resulting restart ended the night for another heavy hitter as Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) tried to pass teammate Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) on the outside of Turn Two. The move pushed Tracy high into the marbles in the corner and into the wall, ending Tracy's evening.

The middle part of the 250-lap event saw more of the same from Hunter-Reay as he pulled out to a 10-second lead while Carpentier and defending race winner Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) battled for second and third. Jourdain had a strong event in his new RuSPORT machine and threatened for third after making his way through the field from his ninth-place starting spot.

That battle would take place more than 15 seconds behind the front-running Hunter-Reay however as the 2003 Australia winner kept ticking off the laps. Then with 102 laps to run, the moment that ensured that the battle would remain far away from Hunter-Reay came courtesy of a debris caution.

The fifth caution flag of the night came when debris was found on the front stretch, opening the pits first only for the three cars on the lead lap. But a miscommunication caused Carpentier and Jourdain to miss their chance to pit with Hunter-Reay and the two elected to pit with the remainder of the field, which was a violation of Champ Car rules. The penalty sent both cars to the back of the restart line where they could continue their battle for second place, but effectively ended any chance for running down the leader. The fight went all the way to the end of the race, with Carpentier holding off Jourdain to claim the second spot.

There were plenty of wars deeper in the field despite the fact that the majority of the field was at least one lap down. Former series champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) turned in a strong performance after scoring an eighth-place starting spot. Vasser ran in the top five for the last half of the race and scored a fourth-place finish, giving PKV Racing its best finish of the 2004 season.

The RuSPORT team completed its best-ever Champ Car night with Jourdain taking third and rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#10 BG Products/Red Bull Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) scoring his first Champ Car top-five. Allmendinger gained eight spots in climbing to the fifth spot, scoring the championship point for most laps gained in a race and putting himself back in the thick of the Rookie-of-the-Year race.

Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) kept his nose clean all night and brought his Newman/Haas Racing machine home in sixth place, giving him the series points lead by one digit over Carpentier. Junqueira takes the top spot in the championship for the first time this year and the second time in his Champ Car career.

Rodolfo Lavin (#3 Corona Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was in line for the best finish of his Champ Car career after running in the top five early in the race, but ended his night and everyone else's night when he put his car in the fence with two laps to go. The resulting caution meant the race would end under caution, and dropped Lavin to ninth.

Oriol Servia (#11 yokeTV.com Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) scored his best finish of the year in the Dale Coyne Racing machine, moving up four spots to place seventh while Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) scored an eighth-place finish. Mario Haberfeld (#5 Cummins Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) led the three-car Reynard brigade and rounded out the top-10 with his 10th-place finish.

The series takes a week off before heading to Portland International Raceway June 18-20 for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland for Round 4 of the 2004 campaign.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE FINISHERS

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "What a day! It was tough battle with all the traffic, I couldn't relax one second. It was a great team effort. We stayed sharp all night long, had excellent pit stops, and a great car set-up. It is a terrific day for the Herdez Competition team and all my sponsors."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "I tried really hard to catch Ryan, but it was almost impossible because he had an excellent car. We had a good car and a clean race. I figured that I would have to settle for second when I knew that I wouldn't be able to catch Ryan. It is a good day for the Forsythe Championship Racing Team and Indeck."

MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "It is great to be on the podium. Ryan made me look bad from my win here last year, but he did a fantastic job and I am happy for him. Third is so good for the RuSPORT team and my sponsor Gigante. The team is just unbelievable. We are making great improvements and becoming strong. The car just got better over the weekend and we had a good car for the race."

NOTEWORTHY

* Ryan Hunter-Reay's victory marked the first time since 1992 that a driver led every lap during a Champ Car oval event. The last driver to accomplish the feat was Bobby Rahal, who led all 200 laps in a Phoenix win.

* The attendance for the three-day event was 46,532, an increase of 29 percent from 2003.

* Ryan Hunter-Reay, Jimmy Vasser and A.J. Allmendinger scored top-five finishes Saturday night, marking the first time since 2001 in Cleveland when Memo Gidley, Bryan Herta and Vasser finished in the top five.

* Canada takes over the lead in the Nation's Cup standings, leading Brazil 82-74 after three races. The top-five countries in the Nation's Cup are covered by a scant 17 points.

-champcar-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Oriol Servia , Bryan Herta , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Rodolfo Lavin , Dale Coyne , Michel Jourdain
Teams Dale Coyne Racing