IRL: Milwaukee: Chevy race report

Bell and Barron Score Top-10 Finishes For Chevy in Milwaukee MILWAUKEE, July 25, 2004 - Although Townsend Bell was a late addition to the Team Chevrolet roster in the IRL IndyCar Series, he has emerged as a most valuable player. Bell...

Bell and Barron Score Top-10 Finishes For Chevy in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE, July 25, 2004 - Although Townsend Bell was a late addition to the Team Chevrolet roster in the IRL IndyCar Series, he has emerged as a most valuable player. Bell finished sixth today in the Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 on the challenging Milwaukee Mile in his third race with Panther Racing's Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara. Alex Barron crossed the finish line stripe just .023 seconds behind Bell to post a seventh-place finish for Chevy and the Red Bull Cheever Racing team. Dario Franchitti won the 225-mile race in a Honda Dallara.

The 1-mile Milwaukee oval proved to be a formidable opponent as drivers and teams fought for grip on its low-banked turns and wide-open straightaways. Handling was paramount as the IRL IndyCar Series held its first event at this historic venue.

Among the other Chevrolet-powered drivers, Ed Carpenter achieved his goal by finishing 11th in Red Bull Cheever Racing's Chevrolet Dallara. Felipe Giaffone persevered through handling problems to finish 13th for Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Jacques Lazier was uninjured in an encounter with the wall in Patrick Racing's Chevrolet Dallara on the 205th lap, and Tomas Scheckter encountered misfortune in Panther Racing's Pennzoil Chevrolet Dallara, finishing 21st with a broken gearbox.

Bell started 12th, climbed as high as fifth, and declared his overall satisfaction with the long day's work.

"Everything was going smoothly until we had a miscommunication on a pit stop and I went to the back," Bell said. "We picked off a couple guys and I was happy with our pace in traffic. Then we had a great pit stop and the guys got me some positions.

"I tucked in and ran with the top guys," he continued. "I got into the marbles in Turn 1 and just barely kept it off the fence. After the final yellow flag, everyone was slipping and sliding. At the end I was able to hold off Barron, but couldn't get around the lapped car in front of me."

Barron had the advantage of five previous starts on The Milwaukee Mile, and he used that experience to advance from 15th at the start to seventh at the finish.

"I learned a lot when I raced here before," he said. "That played a big part in knowing when to be aggressive and when not to. It's slick, and the driving style in qualifying is entirely different from how you drive in the race.

"Our strength today was that we kept pushing and pushing," Barron observed. "We had really good pit stops and our fuel strategy worked great. We worked as hard as we could every moment of the race."

Ed Carpenter's 11th place finish in Red Bull Cheever Racing's Chevrolet Dallara was his best result of the season.

"Finishing the race was the first objective," Carpenter said. "It's amazing how much more you learn when you run to the checkered flag. It was a tough race; you saw cars go forward and cars go backward. My car got the job done today and I did what I needed to do. The engine ran great and the car handled as well as I needed. I'm satisfied, and I'm ready to go to the next race."

Felipe Giaffone wrestled with handling problems but brought the Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet Dallara home in 13th place.

"Historically this is always a tough track," Giaffone said. "We started well, but then faced a really loose car on longer runs. I think this was one of the toughest races of my life in terms of keeping the car out of trouble. We had the same loose problems we had at Nashville, almost feeling like a flat tire or broken suspension again, so we want to go back to the shop and see what we can figure out."

Tomas Scheckter's run of bad luck continued as he was sidelined by a transmission problem after 32 laps.

"We lost fourth gear early in the race, and the gear teeth went into the pump and through the filter," Scheckter explained. "The Panther guys pulled it behind the wall and we were thinking about changing the gear cluster, but the gearbox was overheating badly and we called it a day. It's a shame for everybody on the Pennzoil Panther team and Chevrolet."

Jaques Lazier made a green-flag pit stop on the 15th lap to replace a punctured tire on Patrick Racing's Chevrolet Dallara, and then worked hard to regain the lost ground. His day ended when he encountered the wall 20 laps from the finish.

"I went into Turn 1, and the car snapped loose real quick," Lazier said. "I caught it, but by that time you're in the marbles, and then you're just a passenger in the car."

After back-to-back short-track races, the IRL IndyCar Series will return to a superspeedway on August 1 at Michigan International Speedway's fast 2-mile oval. The Michigan Indy 400, the 10th round of the 16-race IndyCar Series, will start at 3 p.m. EDT and will be televised live on ABC.

-gm racing-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing