|Graham Rahal (L), Dario Franchitti (C and 1st) and Oriol Servia (R)|
Dario Franchitti won the 2011 Milwaukee 225 IndyCar race in convincing fashion. Graham Rahal ran a strong race to finish second, and Oriol Servia held off Will Power for third. With the win, Dario and Will are tied for the points lead. It was Franchitti's third win of the season and the best Father's Day present he could have given Dad George who was there in Winners Circle with him.
Will Power and Danica Patrick rounded out the top-5.
The race got off to a strange start when Ryan Hunter-Reay spun his car on the first green flag lap. Because he was driving a car with the GoDaddy sponsorship, most of the crowd (and probably most of the TV audience) thought that it was Danica who’d crashed. However, Danica soldiered on to a solid 5th place finish, the best finish of the Andretti Autosport team.
On lap 11, Simona de Silvestro drove into the pits and retired her car (see “Hot News"). Her team had worked into the wee hours of the morning to get the car ready to run, but Simona herself showed the effects her crash, and retired in considerable pain.
On lap 66 Ana Beatriz scraped wall in turn 4, bringing out the caution flag. In the ensuing pit stops Takuma Sato missed his pit box, causing Scott Dixon to have a slow stop, and hit one of his own crew members. Sato was given a drive through penalty for the accident; the crew member was not seriously injured.
During this pit stop Vitor Meira retired the AJ Foyt number 14 car. “Why crash another car" asked AJ for a TV interview. The team unloaded a slow car on Friday, and when that was crashed their backup proved just as slow. Vitor finished 24th.
The green flag flew on lap 79, but almost immediately a caution flag flew when Alex Lloyd spun and collected Sebastian Saavedra. Lloyd finished 22nd, Saavedra 23rd.
To this point the race was pretty predictable up front – Dario lead, and everyone else followed. However, Tony Kanaan started catching Dario, and took the lead on lap 116. KV Racing has found something right before qualification, and their drivers were strong all day.
Kanaan was passing back marker JR Hildebrand when Hildebrand got high into the marbles and smacked the wall in turn 4, thus sparing Kanaan’s next “victim" – Will Power – from being lapped.
On the restart, Dario took the lead again, with Kanaan falling into second. One of the most entertaining duals then took place in the back of the field as Scott Dixon and Will Power engaged in duel for 11th for several laps. Finally, Kanaan again challenged for the lead, taking it on lap 154. At that point KV Racing team mate EJ Viso was in 5th, and Takuma Sato soldiering on in the top 10 – life was good in the KV camp.
However, racing is a cruel sport. On lap 164, EJ got loose in the marbles and crashed between turns 3 and 4. Worse yet, on lap 195, Tony Kanaan crashed out while running second, again in turn 4. Sadly, had Tony not crashed, the lead car – Helio Castroneves – would’ve had to put under green, as his left rear tire had deflated to 3 psi of air pressure. Kanaan finished 19th, and Viso finished 20th. Sato recovered from his pit penalty to finish 8th.
After pit stop – most of the top cars didn’t actually make pit stops – the running order was Dario Franchitti, Graham Rahal, Will Power, Oriol Servia, Danica Patrick, and James Hinchcliffe. Which is pretty much how the race ended (Servia passed Power), as Dario set sail and ran away with the last segment of the race. Both Franchitti and team mate Scott Dixon had been running fast all weekend, and their rear wing positions were 2-3 notches more laid back than most of the rest of the field. In the end, the fastest did win, although it was entertaining getting to that point.
What “Split"? Three years ago, this Milwaukee event was the first “Non Indianapolis" race of the newly united IRL series, and the “Big three" (Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti) dominated. And, the former CHAMP teams were trying to assemble their “kit cars" from parts and get onto the track. Today, if you look at the finishing order – both in terms of teams and drivers – you’ll notice that the finishing order was what you’d expect of Cart/Champ races. Tony George, however, is gone.
Here is the Split! Three years ago, the grandstands were full, around 32,000 people. While far less than in previous years, it still was considered a success. Today, the grandstands weren’t half full, around 20,000 people. This is in spite of a buy-one-get-one-free ticket sale, and very reasonable prices. While morning rains might’ve killed the walkup sales, the bottom line is that the IndyCar series has a long way to go to rebuild its fan base.
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Milwaukee 225 winner): "That was a hell of a run today. The first part of the race I thought I had a bit of an advantage on everybody. Very tough, as usual here. Tough on your own just balancing the car, but then you get in traffic and it gets really difficult. It's the same for everyone. Then Tony (Kanaan) came marching along and he looked really, really strong, and he gave me a hard time as usual. Racing with Tony is a pleasure. An absolute pleasure. Just inches apart, giving each other room and respect, and then Helio joins the party and does his usual blocking crap. I don't know what it's going to take to understand blocking is not a part of what we do in the IndyCar Series. Great day. To win here at Milwaukee is always special. It's such hard work and a such a hard race. It's a delight for the Target Team and we got the Downy colors in Victory Lane."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central, finished second): "A great job for the Service Central team today. To come from 12th and move up like that. We passed a lot of cars. I thought passing was going to be tough today and it was, but we were able to do it. I'm really proud of my guys. They gave me a great car, and yet again, qualifying is our weak link, but time and time again we're proving we can compete and this is one of the toughest ovals we go to, so to have that finish is great. We're knocking on the door (of Victory Lane). It's our second second-place finish of the year and third podium. We're getting closer. It's going to come one of these days."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo/Newman Haas Racing, finished third): "It's awesome. We've been close to the podium so many times and things just don't come easy. We just have to work at it just like we did today. I was in a podium position and then we had a bad stop and went back to 12th and had to go through the field again. The car was just amazing. The restarts were a lot of fun and I'm just so happy to give a podium to the team. My first podium was here with them in '05. And we started on the fifth row then. It all came back around."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, finished fourth): "I guess we're equal on points so you just have to keep fighting away, keep having good days like this and make no mistakes and we'll be good. I was just fighting like a dog to get those positions."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7Team GoDaddy finished fifth): "Unfortunately, there were so many yellows that came out about halfway through a stint in the last half of the race or so. More green flag running would have been good for me, but we still got a top five."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott/Newman Haas Racing, finished sixth): "The race was a lot of fun! Honestly, the Sprott car was so good and the team did such a good job in the pits. Huge props to the boys and a big thanks to Oriol. I didn't test here and in practice I was getting us going in the wrong direction so we really leaned on him in qualifying and for the race setup and the car was great. We were able to drive around some people, had some great, great pit stops; the crew was unbelievable. To get a top-six at a track like this on your first crack at it is something we can be pretty happy with. Congratulations to Oriol. The team told me he went to the back after a bad stop and then on the restart he blew by me. He had a great race and a well-deserved podium."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, finished seventh): "We never had the balance of the No. 9 Target car right all day. It was worse off of (Turns) 3 and 4 then we had the incident with the No. 5 car in the pits. It was one of those days."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Dad's Root Beer/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, finished 10th): "The Dad's Root Beer car was pretty good. We were able to get out there and pass people. I was really happy and with the changes that we made all through the race. I was hoping that we could finish a little bit higher with the car that good, but that's just how it goes. You get boxed in on those re-starts and you have a good car, but there is nothing you can do when you have nowhere to go. It's just part of it when you have someone ahead of you that checks up and you get held out. Other than that, I think that it's been a pretty good day."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Team Ipiranga/Dreyer & Reinbold): "We had a great start and we got up to ninth or something. The Ipiranga car seemed to be good, but it was a little bit tough to stay in traffic and to work on passing people. I definitely couldn't work on passing people and that really destroyed our race today. We had people slow in front of us and we never could pass them and we lost momentum. I was trying to keep my lap because Dario Franchitti was behind me and as soon as I went a little bit higher I got in the dirty part of the track and brushed the wall. It hurt the suspension a little bit and we lost two laps because of that. It was really frustrating that we couldn't put it all together. I felt that some people were really blocking hard today which really screwed us up. We just need to keep working hard and move onto Iowa."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "We didn't get the results we were hoping for with the Venom car today. When it came down to the full field of traffic, we just didn't have the speed we needed. We'll keep working at it and aim for better results next weekend in Iowa."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "It was tough, but we managed to stay on the lead lap, which was a positive. We stayed out of trouble and made a few good calls, which also helped us pick off the field bit-by-bit. The DHL/Sun Drop car was pretty good; we just tried to dial it in as the day went on, although we could have used a bit more. Hopefully, we'll build on that next weekend at Iowa."
ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Direct Supply/Sarah Fisher Racing): "The way this weekend went, I guess we're lucky just to put the car in the trailer in one piece. Every once in a while we thought we were going to have something figured out, but we just stunk all weekend. I feel terrible for Direct Supply and Sarah and Andy. We should have been better here; we tested and we had a three-day race weekend, but didn't really improve. It's just really frustrating, and it's as much my fault as anyone's."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "There's no point in trying to make things worse than what they are. The car was very, very nervous. We struggled all weekend with the set-up. I think in qualifying, we made an improvement, but we were not 100 percent sure we were going in the right direction. We tried something different in the race, but it was just a guess we took. We got it wrong. Unfortunately, it made it a very difficult car to drive. We started the race in an aggressive mode to try and make some positions up really quick, but the car was very, very loose. On a short track like this, it makes for a very long race. Because it is a short track, you don't want to be in anyone's way and yet keep it off the wall. The team never gave up. We made a big change in the pits (changed rear springs), and that was the right thing to do because I don't think I never would have made it to the finish."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team GoDaddy.com): "It's extremely unfortunate. The car just broke loose on the way in and I just couldn't save it. I feel bad for the guys. We had a good car here this weekend. We qualified seventh, which was our highest oval qualifying result yet, so we were really looking forward to it. But, that's racing. It happens. We'll just keep our heads up and move on to Iowa. We were looking to really represent GoDaddy, DHL and Sun Drop really well here this weekend, but it wasn't meant to be and I'm just disappointed for them."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America): "I had some contact with J.R. (Hildebrand) at the beginning of the race, which was my fault. I didn't know he was on the outside of me and I came up into him. I hit my right rear. We had a huge vibration during that first stint. I was hoping it was something to do with the tire but I don't know, honestly. We changed tires and all I know is that I got lose and I caught it once but I couldn't catch it the second time. Unfortunately, we ended up in the wall and took Sebastian (Saavedra) with us which was unfortunate. This is disappointing for the Boy Scouts car. We didn't this hit because we were struggling at the beginning of the race, but we were hanging in there and I think we need to continue to hang in there and hope for decent results.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "This is very sad. We were doing and a great job and we had a really great race car. We are looking at everything that the weekend brought and unfortunately we ended up involved in something that I couldn't get out of. I saw Alex (Lloyd) get lose in turn 1 and I had nowhere to go or nothing to do to avoid it. It is very disappointing as we were strong this weekend. Conquest racing was doing a great job but it was just one of those days.
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "I was struggling with the car a little bit, for sure. At that point, I'm kind of trying to stay out of my own way out there. We're just trying to survive through the race. With the leaders going by, a lot of the guys can stay on the bottom and some of the guys just sort of can't. It's not their fault. I just got through with TK (Tony Kanaan), and I got shoved up in the marbles. Once I got up there, I couldn't get it back.
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "Like AJ said, and he has lots of experience, when a weekend starts bad it normally doesn't stop and it usually ends bad too. It was a smart decision but a tough one too."
TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO-KV Racing Technology-Lotus): "I was trying. (If you're) trying to win races, that's the way it is. I saw the opportunity when Helio (Castroneves) got traffic, stepped on it and lost the rear. It's a shame. It's my fault. But, hey, it was a fun race. We raced each other hard the whole race. Unfortunately, I'm human. I make mistakes sometimes as well. I'd rather make a mistake trying hard then actually not trying at all."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA-KV Racing Technology-Lotus): "We had an amazing race and a great setup that was a combination of all my teammate's preferences. I really think I had a good car, maybe not as fast as the leaders but we had a car to finish in the top five at the most. I was passing the lap car and I got high and went into the marbles and it sent me into the wall. That is what happen and it is unfortunate. I feel bad for the mechanics and my crew because they put this car together for me. I am looking forward to Iowa now and there is nothing else we can do."
|14||83||Charlie Kimball||1 LAP||1 LAP||159.676||21||Running|
|15||18||James Jakes||2 LAPS||1 LAP||155.808||23||Running|
|17||24||Ana Beatriz||3 LAPS||1 LAP||157.499||11||Running|
|18||77||Alex Tagliani||29 LAPS||26 LAPS||155.595||19||Running|
|19||82||Tony Kanaan||31 LAPS||2 LAPS||162.325||4||Contact|
|20||59||EJ Viso||62 LAPS||31 LAPS||159.498||6||Contact|
|21||4||JR Hildebrand||105 LAPS||43 LAPS||159.864||18||Contact|
|22||19||Alex Lloyd||146 LAPS||41 LAPS||157.238||14||Contact|
|23||34||Sebastian Saavedra||147 LAPS||1 LAP||155.642||24||Contact|
|24||14||Vitor Meira||156 LAPS||9 LAPS||153.450||22||Mechanical|
|25||78||Simona de Silvestro||214 LAPS||58 LAPS||140.971||26||Handling|
|26||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||225 LAPS||–||–||–||Contact|
Winners average speed: 117.390
Time of Race: 01:56:43.5877
Margin of victory: 1.4271 seconds.
Cautions: 6 for 62 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 3 drivers
Lap Leaders: Franchitti 1 – 115, Kanaan 116 – 134, Franchitti 135 – 153, Kanaan 154 – 167, Castroneves 168 – 198, Franchitti 199 – 225
Point Standings: Power 271, Franchitti 271, Servia 198, Dixon 195, Rahal 176, Kanaan 171, Briscoe 165, Tagliani 147, Sato 142, Patrick 141.