Series races two-wide into Texas, Milwaukee
Tony Kanaan pointed to Turn 1 at the Milwaukee Mile and joked “that’s where we’ll have to have the acceleration point” on restarts. Actually, he might not be far off the mark.
Kanaan, a two-time IZOD IndyCar Series race winner at the Mile, was among the dozen drivers to put in a testing day on the racetrack in advance of the series’ return June 17-19 for the Milwaukee 225. Eleven more drivers will test June 3, and 13 Firestone Indy Lights driver/car combinations will be on the track June 2 in preparation for the David Hobbs 100.
Fans can watch testing each day (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) from the hill outside Turn 2, and Milwaukee 225 promoters will host a watching party (food, drinks, apparel, tickets for purchase) June 3 in the Gate 1 parking lot off Greenfield Avenue.
“… we want to establish (the race) in 2011, grow it in 2012 and blow it out in 2013,” said AB Promotions executive director R. Christopher McGrath, who noted that ticket sales have been strong in the days following the dramatic 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.
For Kanaan, Ed Carpenter, Danica Patrick and others who were testing June 1 and have competed at the historic oval, it’s great to hear such commitment and fan response.
“I complained like heck that we didn’t come here last year,” said Patrick, who was born in Beloit, Wis., and grew up in Roscoe, Ill. “I said to all the people at the series that this is the best track, I think, for racing for us. There are two very good grooves here, and the outside one you can use more throttle and the inside one you have to lift so it’s very even. It allows you to move around and use the space for how your car is changing over a run.
“This place is more like a bigger oval where you can run two wide. IndyCar has run well on flat tracks, and it really tests our cars. You have to take care of your car and that creates the separation between cars. Milwaukee is a place I’ve just enjoyed coming to. I’ve always been pretty strong here (four top-10 finishes in five races) so hopefully that means I’ve got a good shot (at Victory Circle).”
The Milwaukee 225 – the middle of three consecutive weekends of racing -- will be the third oval race on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule to utilize double-wide restarts, and each should produce excitement.
On June 11, they’ll be employed on the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway for both ends of the Firestone Twin 275s. Following Milwaukee, the initial set of races in the A.J. Foyt Oval Championship concludes at the 0.785-mile Iowa Speedway on June 25.
There were six restarts in the 200-lap Indy 500 on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the field lining up two abreast on the backstretch and accelerating in Turn 4. Drivers were not allowed to improve their position until crossing the start-finish line.
“I thought they were pretty exciting with a lot of activity on the front straightaway,” IZOD IndyCar Series president of competition Brian Barnhart said. “There was an accident on the first one going in to Turn 1, but I thought (the drivers) did a great job with it all day long. I thought we had some great action on the racetrack all the way. A lot of leaders, a lot of lead changes and some good, clean racing.”
Drivers testing at Milwaukee agreed, though they pointed out that it will be more congested – which increases the possibility of incidents – with 26-28 cars expected on the three ovals.
“I think Texas will be the easiest of all because there’s so much room to race,” said Carpenter, driver of the No. 67 Dollar General car for Sarah Fisher Racing. “I think here at Milwaukee will be kind of like going into Indy because it’s so different.
“I thought it went really well at Indy, but I think the most challenging part of it was when you got lapped cars that aren’t running well making it hard on guys who are racing for position. That will have to be something to watch for here, but this track has little bit wider groove than even Indy so the fact that we made it work and made it safe at Indy we should be able to do the same here.
“All the drivers haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk about it. I’m sure we’ll be able to keep massaging it to make it better for not only us but the fans.”
Added Kanaan: "With the double-file restarts, we'll be creating friends and enemies for the rest of the season. It worked well at Indy, and now every time we go to a new track it's going to be different."
Scheduled to test at the Mile on June 3 are 2009 Milwaukee race winner Scott Dixon, who finished fifth at Indy; Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate and reigning series champion Dario Franchitti; 500 Mile Race runner-up and Chase Rookie of the Year JR Hildebrand of National Guard Panther Racing; Graham Rahal, the third-place finisher in the ‘500’ and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Charlie Kimball; Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and series points leader Will Power; Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing’s Oriol Servia; and Ana Beatriz and Justin Wilson of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. IndyCar