Halfway through season, title competition fierce
Tony Kanaan opened the post-race news conference with his own question: "Can we race here again, that race that is missing?"
The runner-up to Ryan Hunter-Reay in the Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by XYQ would be among 25 IZOD IndyCar Series proponents to fill the gap in the August schedule created by the cancellation of the China race with a follow-up visit to the Milwaukee Mile.
That's not under consideration, but it was announced just before the green flag that the historic venue will again play host to the series in June 2013. At least that's something for Kanaan, who has finished no worse than fourth in six of his eight starts at the Mile. It was the best finish of the season for the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion, who moved to eighth in the championship standings.
"Second place, we'll take it," said Kanaan, who noted that his Chevrolet-powered No. 11 GEICO/Mouser Electronics/KV Racing Technology car didn't have enough speed to chase down Hunter-Reay in the final laps. "We're building some points. I had two terrible races in the beginning of the season (St. Petersburg and Barber). I came to Brazil, I was dead last in the championship. So I'm happy."
Being only 43 points out of second place at the halfway point of the schedule would please just about anyone in this competitive series.
There have been six different winners (representing four teams) of the eight races. Three teams are represented in the top five and six in the top 10 of the standings heading into the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway on June 23.
Will Power of Team Penske, who scored three consecutive road/street course victories, is the championship front-runner. He also was the points leader in 2011 following Milwaukee (the eighth of 17 races).
James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport is 31 points back in second (243) after claiming his second podium finish of the season at Milwaukee in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car.
"I think not thinking championship is what maybe got us to this point," said the sophomore IZOD IndyCar Series driver who has finished no lower than sixth in all but one race (contact at Detroit relegating him to 21st). "I think that just shows how hard everybody at Andretti Autosports has been working. We're finishing races, staying on lead laps and things like that. The consistency is paying off."
Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing is third with 239 points, and Hunter-Reay moved to fourth in the standings with 233 points with his sixth Indy car victory and second at the Mile.
"Every race is very important. These points are very precious each and every race," Hunter-Reay said a few minutes after Kanaan opened the proceedings.