Topeka: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing race rport

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL FINISHED FOURTH IN THE ABC SUPPLY / A. . FOYT 225 AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE; DOORNBOS FINISHED 14TH FOR HIS THIRD OVAL RACE - McDonald's driver Graham Rahal started second for his second consecutive year at the Milwaukee Mile...


- McDonald's driver Graham Rahal started second for his second consecutive year at the Milwaukee Mile and earned his top finish of the season of fourth place in the 225-lap ABC Supply / AJ Foyt 225. The legendary oval is considered the team's home event. On the start, Rahal passed polesitter Ryan Briscoe for the lead but was passed by Tony Kanaan before the start/finish line and dropped to third by the end of the lap behind Kanaan and Briscoe, respectively. On Lap 22, Scott Dixon passed Rahal, who held fourth place for the next nine laps until he passed Kanaan for third. He held third place for the next 13 laps before he was passed by Dario Franchitti. Throughout this time he showed patience while attempting to lap cars and maintain a close distance to the leaders. The field made their first pit stop on Lap 59 during the first of only two caution periods to remove the crashed car of rookie Mike Conway. The McDonald's crew performed a fast pit stop and he returned to the track in fourth place and held the position for the next stint until the next round of pit stops began and he temporarily moved into third before he stopped for tires and fuel on Lap 133. He maintained fourth place until the second and final caution period for debris in Turn 2 from Laps 160 to 171. The race was restarted with five lapped cars between Rahal and third place Franchitti. He skillfully navigated traffic for the remainder of the race and when he was held up by lapped traffic he was able to quickly close the gap to the lead pack once past them and held fourth place until the checkered flag. Scott Dixon utilized traffic to pass polesitter Ryan Briscoe with 25 laps to go for the victory while Dario Franchitti finished third. Rahal earned 32 points for his fourth place finish and moved from 11th to eighth in the point standings with 114.

Following are his post race comments:

"It was good to bring the McDonald's car home," said Rahal. "Obviously that was the goal. We finished fourth and we're really happy with that but we're obviously still disappointed because we thought the McDonald's car was the one to beat this weekend. When you're so close, it's disappointing not to do it. On the last restart we had five lapped cars between us and that's really the decider because it's hard to get around them. By the time we got around them we were seven seconds behind the lead pack. We had a good pace and we made up some of that but you're not going to be able to make up all of that being a tenth-of-a-second faster a lap. I think we absolutely had the car to challenge the best today. We had a killer vibration at the end that hurt us a little bit but we caught those guys -- of course they were in traffic some too -- even the last couple of clear laps, we were still quicker than them. We definitely had the pace, I don't think there was anyone quicker than we were. At the start I was being super patient and super cautious and of course that's when those guys got by me. And after that we held our own. I can think of three or four opportunities I had to go underneath Briscoe and Dixie (Dixon) and Dario and I lifted every time just because it was early (in the race). I didn't foresee that with six laps to go there was going to be so many lapped cars between us. "

-Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver Robert Doornbos started 12th for the 225-lap ABC Supply / AJ Foyt 225 at the Milwaukee Mile and gained valuable experience in his third oval race before he took the checkered flag in 15th place. He made a great start and passed the cars of Raphael Matos and Mike Conway to take over 10th place for four laps before the two moved ahead of him and he dropped to 13th place behind EJ Viso on Lap 9. He held the position for the next 17 laps before he dropped to 14th, then 15th, on Lap 27. He negotiated tight traffic on the one-mile oval and ran in 17th place by lap 45 and regained the same position after the first round of pit stops on Lap 59 during the caution for Conway's crash. By this point he was one lap down to the leaders and held 17th place. The team worked throughout the race to improve the handling of his race car as he gained experience running in traffic. He moved into 16th place on Lap 113 and held the position until he moved into 15th place after a pit stop on Lead Lap 133. The second and final caution came out from Laps 160-171 to remove debris in Turn 2 and the series took the opportunity to clear the marbles (tire residue) off the racing line. He held 15th place through the restart and moved into 14th on Lap 193 when he passed Justin Wilson. He held the position until the checkered flag and finished five laps down to the leaders. He collected 16 points for his finish and maintained his 15th place rank in the point standings with a total of 85. Matos took over the lead in the Rookie of the Year standings but only has three more than Doornbos (88-85). Scott Dixon utilized traffic to pass polesitter Ryan Briscoe with 25 laps to go for the victory and point lead while Dario Franchitti finished third.

Following are Doornbos' post race comments.

"It was good to get my first short oval experience," said Doornbos. "In Milwaukee there is a good vibe around this place. Everybody is happy to come back. I enjoyed the starts on cold tires and passed quite a few cars. Then throughout the stint the car just got worse and I was dropping back like a brick. It's frustrating like that because nobody wants to be lapped especially if your teammate has a good car. We will just put this experience in the bag. I think Texas is more my type of circuit and I'm looking forward to returning there."

- Next Up...The series will head south for the Bombardier Learjet 550 at Texas Motor Speedway. Practice will take place on Thursday and Friday and qualifying is set for Friday night. The event will be televised live on Versus at 9:00 p.m. EDT. The track has served as a measuring stick for the team's progress on oval since their transition from the road/street course-based Champ Car World Series to the oval-based IndyCar Series. The team has been able to measure gains by using data from the 2008 event at TMS as the baseline and has noticed improvement at subsequent tests in October of '08 and April of '09.

-credit: nhlr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Justin Wilson , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Graham Rahal , Robert Doornbos , Ryan Briscoe , Mike Conway , EJ Viso