It wasn't turn-back-the-clock day at the track, but the front row for tomorrow's IndyCar Series race here at the Milwaukee Mile gave both fans and media allusions of yesteryear. Indeed, an Andretti and a Rahal will grace the front row, as ...
It wasn't turn-back-the-clock day at the track, but the front row for tomorrow's IndyCar Series race here at the Milwaukee Mile gave both fans and media allusions of yesteryear. Indeed, an Andretti and a Rahal will grace the front row, as 21-year-old Marco nipped 19-year-old Graham for the top spot.
The pole is the youngest Andretti's first in his two and half year IndyCar career. His consistent time of 1:26.9591 at an average speed of 168.079 mph put the No. 26 Andretti Green Racing entry on top of the pylon.
"The first lap, I knew the car was good, but I obviously didn't want to take the tires out too soon," Andretti said afterwards. "I was able to do a perfect first lap that enabled me to get after it the next three laps, because at the end it was on the edge of giving up. If it had given up, that wouldn't have been the pole."
Rahal's second grid spot is the best of his brief open-wheel career, having never started higher than fourth during his rookie season in Champ Car.
"I think it's good to start up front," Rahal noted. "To get some clean air here would be a good thing. It will be tight with 27 cars. But it's good to run with the guys who are competitive, and it's good to learn from those guys. We just need a good result here."
Both drivers reflected on the historical significance; the last time an Andretti and a Rahal were on the front row was in 1992 at New Hampshire, when current team owners Michael and Bobby started 1-2.
"I think it's cool; it's special to see how we can carry (their legacies) on," Andretti offered. "We both have a lot of unfinished business. We don't plan to be 1-2. After the fact, whatever we can do to help (marketing), this helps the series look great from all aspects."
"If it grows like it has, and we all believe unification was the best, I don't see how this can't help," Rahal opined. "I love being here and racing here, and the Europeans who come over find that out here. You can see a Conquest car out-qualify one of the Penskes."
Rahal held the top spot for most of the day after his qualifying run and fought off all comers until Andretti took to the track. Andretti and three others had to wait out an accident by Vitor Meira late in the going as the Brazilian got loose in turn two, crashed, and then spun into the inside retaining wall. He has a mild neck strain and is not currently cleared to drive, but will be re-evaluated tomorrow morning.
Behind the two Americans was Scott Dixon, who thoroughly enjoyed being back in his office after a whirlwind week of media attention from his Indianapolis 500 win. "It's nice to be back behind the wheel," Dixon mentioned. "But the wind gusted a lot today, out of turn four and in the middle of turns one and two."
Will Power's second trip to the Milwaukee Mile and consistent practice times sees the Aussie start fourth, ahead of Helio Castroneves. The Brazilian has led many laps and started from the pole on a couple of occasions here but has never won, and hopes to end a 20-race losing drought tomorrow.
Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon are next; Kanaan searches for his third consecutive win at this track. A trio of drivers who participated in yesterday's extra one-hour practice, Enrique Bernoldi, Oriol Servia and E.J. Viso complete the top ten. Bernoldi was the aforementioned Conquest driver who beat out one of the Penskes; the Formula One equivalent might be a Force India beating a Ferrari, as nearly happened in last Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.
After their controversial accident at Indianapolis, Ryan Briscoe starts one row ahead of Danica Patrick, as the two line up 11th and 13th respectively. Both admit to moving on, though fireworks may occur there on the treacherous and crowded one-mile oval.
The largest field for an IndyCar race here in 11 years will receive the green flag at 3:00 local time (4:00 ET). The 27-car number dropped by one as owner/driver Marty Roth withdrew from the race. Roth's practice crash damaged his right rear shock beyond repair.