Ryan Hunter-Reay has claimed his first win of the 2012 IndyCar Series season, winning a rain-delayed Milwaukee IndyFest at the Milwauke Mile oval.
The start of the race was delayed by an hour and a half when rain showers hit the circuit just half an hour before the race’s scheduled start. Once the weather had improved and the track been declared dry, the racing got underway with the field’s 25 drivers facing 225 stern laps of wheel-to-wheel action.
Hunter-Reay – who elected to shave off his beard in the week following last weekend’s Texas Firestone 550 (in which he retired) to improve his luck – was a factor throughout the race.
He quickly got ahead of pole-sitter Dario Franchitti and kept him at bay for the early exchanges, and eventually claimed the lead when Hélio Castroneves began to slow on Lap 141.
With the remainder of the race interrupted by a series of cautions – including one that followed the retirement of Franchitti – Hunter-Reay kept his rivals at bay to win by just over five seconds from Tony Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe.
Hinchcliffe’s third place – which proved enough to move him into second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings – came by dint of a late race pass on Oriol Servià. The Spaniard would survive to finish fourth, while EJ Viso finished an excellent fifth to give KV Racing a second appearance in the top-five.
Castroneves ensured Chevrolet-powered entries would sweep to the top-six positions, narrowly edging out Alex Tagliani for sixth place. Oval specialist Ed Carpenter finished eighth, while Graham Rahal and Rubens Barrichello rounded out the top ten.
Franchitti’s race came to an end following a brush of wheels with Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe at one of the race’s many restarts; the Scot turned into the next corner and suddenly speared into the barriers with what the Chip Ganassi team believed was broken suspension.
It was a tough weekend for the Chip Ganassi team, with Franchitti’s team-mate Scott Dixon – who had climbed from 21st to third – called in for a drive-through penalty, with stewards ruling that the New Zealander jumped one of the restarts. The restart in question was actually waved off, and the stewards later admitted that he had been called in error. Nonetheless, Dixon finished eleventh, one spot ahead of his main championship rival Will Power.
2012 IndyCars Milwaukee IndyFest – Final Classification (225 laps):