For all of the bad luck that has been bestowed on the Andretti family at Indianapolis, it seems their cars can’t do a thing wrong at Milwaukee as Ryan Hunter-Reay successfully defended his 2012 victory with another win in Saturday’s Milwaukee IndyFest at the one-mile oval.
With all four of Andretti’s five cars in the top five in qualifying – sandwiching Will Power in between – it was a three-wide jump for the lead at the drop of the green flag, with Hunter-Reay trying his hardest to get around the outside of team-mate Marco Andretti in Turn 1.
Andretti held strong, though, and maintained his advantage. The action through the field was fierce, with Takuma Sato making the largest gains from his starting position in 15th.
The first caution period was out on Lap 21, with Simona de Silvestro brushing the wall on the outside of Turn 4. The Swiss Missile lost control and slowly backed into the barrier but didn’t appear to suffer much damage. The safety team attended and got her restarted and on her way. Many of the runners towards the rear of the field took an opportunity to pit at this point.
At the restart, Alex Tagliani spun before the field even reached Turn 1, merely delaying the restart for a few more laps.
Hunter-Reay managed to get past Andretti on Lap 61, and soon after, all of the leaders were in the pits themselves, including Marco and James Hinchcliffe as well. The stops went well for all except Andretti, whose fuel hose became caught in the tank, delaying the RC Cola machine for those crucial extra seconds that saw him lose numerous positions on the track. He got going again after about a 10-second delay, but a number of positions further down the order. Fellow Andretti driver E.J. Viso now found himself in the lead – a justification of the Venezuelan’s recent strong form.
On Lap 98, the luckless Andretti was spotted slowing on the back straight. Although early speculation was that his recent pit trouble had seen no fuel make it into the car, meaning he had now run out of fuel – this was not the casem and after the safety crew brought him in, it was discovered the drama was a gearbox problem.
Running second in the Drivers’ Championship however, Marco knew he needed to rejoin to maximise his points return, and after some repairs from his crew, he was strapped back in, restarted and resumed participation, albeit 42 laps down. Takuma Sato now found himself in the lead, having moved through the field and maximised his pit strategy, which was out of sequence with much of the field.
Sebastien Bourdais was shown out of the race on Lap 152, felled by a fuel pressure problem which was compounded by a worsening steering failure.
Back on track, Hunter-Reay managed to get past Sato for the lead on Lap 198, with the Japanese pilot having led strongly for much of the middle third of the event. Sato pitted quickly afterward with heavily worn tyres brought on by a very long stint.
By the time the rest of the field cycled through their pit stops, Hunter-Reay decided to put his foot down, opening up a four-second lead on championship leader Helio Castroneves, who was also running high up the order, with Will Power also set for a strong finish in third.
The next and final yellow of the event was caused by Dale Coyne’s Ana Beatriz, who got offline in Turn 4, ran high and brushed the wall, spinning back infield and down near the pitlane, luckily offline. Takuma Sato was negatively affected by this, as he had recently emerged from his final pitstop at the time of the yellow, now finding himself in seventh place, which was where he finished. It was not the ideal result, considering he was on course for a possible win if a bit more luck fell his way.
Upon the final restart, Hunter-Reay put his foot down once again and opened up the same four-second lead. Nobody could touch him once he was out in front, and the reigning series champion went on to take the win – his third at Milwaukee and second in a row. The last time a driver won consecutive events at the Mile was Tony Kanaan in 2006 and 2007 in the old Indy Racing League.
The run of consecutive events reaches its conclusion next week at Iowa as the series heads southwest to the short 0.875-mile oval for another high-drama instalment of this enthralling 2013 championship.
2013 IndyCar Series Milwaukee IndyFest Final Classification (250 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Laps||Result|
|1.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||250||1:51:15.2692|
|2.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||250||+ 4.8059|
|3.||Will Power||Team Penske||250||+ 5.3920|
|4.||E.J. Viso||Team Venzuela / Andretti||250||+ 6.2511|
|5.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||250||+ 6.4632|
|6.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||250||+ 16.5292|
|7.||Takuma Sato||AJ Foyt Enterprises||250||+ 23.3828|
|8.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi Racing||250||+ 23.8041|
|9.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing||249||1 lap behind|
|10.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology||249||1 lap behind|
|11.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing||249||1 lap behind|
|12.||Simon Pagenaud||SPH Racing||249||1 lap behind|
|13.||Sebastián Saavedra||Dragon Racing||248||2 laps behind|
|14.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||248||2 laps behind|
|15.||Ryan Briscoe||Panther Racing||248||2 laps behind|
|16.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||247||3 laps behind|
|17.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||246||4 laps behind|
|18.||James Jakes||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||245||5 laps behind|
|19.||Ana Beatriz||Dale Coyne Racing||242||8 laps behind|
|DNF.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||176||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Tristan Vautier||SPH Racing||173||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing||152||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Alex Tagliani||Barracuda Racing||146||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Simona de Silvestro||KV Racing Technology||69||Contact|