By: Allan Brewer, IndyCar Correspondent
- Franchitti from pole to victory
- Ties Power for championship lead
- Rahal ended 2nd with Servia in 3rd
Franchitti was hot at the Milwaukee Mile as he took pole, fastest lap and race win
Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti completed the weekend sweep of pole, most laps led, fastest race lap and race victory to vault into a tie with IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power of Penske Racing on Sunday. Graham Rahal ended second followed by Oriol Servia.
Franchitti, notching his third IndyCar win of the year (previous firsts at the season-opener in St. Petersburg, Florida and at Texas Motor Speedway only one week ago), dominated throughout the 225 mile affair over the Milwaukee Mile. His margin of victory, at 1.427 seconds, did not completely point up the commanding presence the Scot wielded over the field from first practice on Friday to checkered flag.
"The track was changing as the day went on," Franchitti said. "We did a good job with keeping up with it. We worked in traffic all day to get past cars. It's great to be back here." His fastest lap of the race was 163.349 mph.
It's great to be back here.
Franchitti last won here in 2004. The victory today was his 29th career victory in the IndyCar series. The result leaves Franchitti tied with Power for first place in the 2011 IndyCar championship points race with each standing on 271 points leading into the second half of the season.
Rahal’s second place finish to tie his best IndyCar series result, and he did it on the demanding one-mile oval in West Allis, Wisconsin. Earlier this year, he scored second on the St. Petersburg temporary street circuit. CGR’s Rahal was followed across the line by Servia for the Newman/Haas team. Team Penske's Power and Andretti Autosport's Danica Patrick rounded out the top five.
"It was a great day for our team after qualifying so poorly," said Rahal. "We passed a lot of cars today and we had a lot of good opportunities. We were quick on the low line and at the end of the day we did a great job of moving forward."
Servia commented, "The rain (on Sunday morning), or my car, let me run the low line today and that was the key to my race. It just shows our team always performs well here. It's all about them and the work they did."
The race got off to an inauspicious start for Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay who failed to complete the pace lap with a crash in Turn 4 prior to the green flag. Hunter-Reay damaged the rear suspension, wing and wheels of the race car irreparably.
On the Lap 8 restart Franchitti continued at the point and remained there until beyond the halfway mark of the event. Simona de Silvestro, still smarting from a hard crash in qualifications on Saturday, retired at Lap 15 with an ill-handling car that was rebuilt overnight but untested prior to the race start on Sunday.
On Lap 66 Ana Beatriz brought out the second yellow flag of the day when she blackwalled the inside of Turn 4 with the right side of the Dallara/Honda. A subsequent pitstop into a closed pit area to change right-side tires, and then another stop in order to legally refuel, pushed the Brazilian to the back of the field for the subsequent restart on Lap 80.
On the restart Alex Lloyd of Dale Coyne Racing got loose in Turn 4 and collected Sebastian Saavedra, putting both cars into the wall and ending their day. Another restart came at Lap 92 with Franchitti, Castroneves and Kanaan at the front of the pack.
On Lap 94 Kanaan moved around Castroneves, as did Servia. By Lap 112 Franchitti still held the lead, leading Kanaan, Servia, Castroneves and Service Central's Graham Rahal. At Lap 115 Kanaan passed Franchitti and put the Scot second for the first of only two times on the day.
I just got too aggressive and lost it into the wall.
A yellow flag on Lap 123 when J R Hildebrand in the Panther Racing car hit the Turn 4 wall allowed Franchitti to pass Kanaan for the lead on the restart.
On Lap 163 E J Viso brought out yellow again when the KV Racing Lotus struck the Turn 4 wall damaging the rear wing, suspension and wheels. At the last pit stop Castroneves leaped into the lead on a speedy refuel by the Penske team, besting Franchitti and Kanaan across the pit-end land for first place.
On Lap 194, with Castroneves' left rear tire going down, Kanaan struck the wall in Turn 4 while maintaining second place and playing the waiting game for a stricken Castroneves to pit to change.
"No excuses," said the veteran Kanaan of the mishap, "I just got too aggressive and lost it into the wall."
At Lap 200 under yellow the running order read Castroneves, Franchitti, Rahal, Power and rookie James Hinchicliffe rounding out the top five positions.
Castroneves was forced to stop and change the left rear on orders from his pit crew on Lap 202, and on the restart at Lap 205 Franchitti moved again to the point with Rahal, Servia, Power and Danica Patrick behind.
Franchitti ran out the last 20 laps at the front and won for the third time of the 2011 IndyCar season.