Sunday, 16 June 2013

Master of Milwaukee, Hunter-Reay wins again at the mile - Milwaukee IndyFest Review

Ryan Hunter-Reay claimed his second consecutive win at the Milwaukee after a dominant late race display that saw him see off the Penske cars of Helio Castroneves and Will Power. It was a strong race for the Andretti team despite problems for Marco Andretti, with three of the teams four cars finishing in the top five.

The race started in dramatic fashion with Hunter-Reay moving to make in three wide as the flag dropped, racing alongside team mates Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe, passing the latter for second. Will power made a rapid start also, relegating Hinchcliffe to fourth not long after.

On lap 8 Hunter-Reay closed in on Andretti, racing side by side with the 2012 champion through turns three and four. Andretti however didn't relinquish the lead and began to pull away.

Simona de Silvestro spun and hit the wall coming out of turn three to bring out the first caution of the day on lap 21. The Swiss driver's Dallara didn't appear to suffer too much damage and she was able to rejoin the race albeit three laps down.

The green flag came out on lap 27 but the caution came back imediatley as Alex Tagliani spun at turn three. The race finally got underway again on lap 33 with Andretti still leading the field with Hunter-Reay applying pressure.

Despite a fantastic start, Sebastian Bourdais slowed down on lap 54. The distraught Frenchman pitted for fuel, but ran over a wheel gun on his way out of his pit box, resulting in a drive through penalty.

Ryan Hunter-Reay took the lead on lap 62 and Andretti briefly dropped back to third before team mate EJ Viso pitted under the green flag giving second back to Andretti. Hunter-Reay, Andretti pitted on lap 67 giving the lead to Will Power. Andretti hit trouble when the fuel hose wouldn't come out of his car, costing him valuable time. Will Power pitted a lap later giving the lead to Takuma Sato.

EJ Viso took the lead on lap 92 as Sato pitted. With the Venezuelan moving to first, he became the third Andretti Autosport car to lead the race. Hunter-Reay inherited second with Will Power in third. whilst Sato came out in third. Those positions were quickly reversed though as Sato moved up to third.

After his early pitstop drama, Marco Andretti slowed on lap 96, then stuttered to a halt bringing out the caution. Despite dominating the race weekend up to the race, unable to get his car into gear because of an electrical issue, Andretti's race appeared over over. He later rejoined the race several laps down.

Takuma Sato was the leader once again as the race restarted on lap 107 with 14 cars on the lap. The Japanese driver pulled away from second placed Helio Castroneves, with the gap being just over two seconds 15 laps after the restart.

Sato continued to lead as the raced reached 150 laps, Castroneves was still second, with the Andretti cars of Ryan Hunter-Reay, EJ Viso and James Hinchcliffe completing the top 5. As Sato struggled with traffic, Castroneves closed the gap to around 0.6 seconds by lap 155. Sato was given room to breathe though as Castroneves pitted at the end of the lap. Sato pitted the following lap, handing the lead back to Hunter-Reay.

Sebastian Bourdais race went from bad to worse as the four-time Champ Car champion retired on lap 152 with suspected steering issues.

As the drivers cycled through their pitstops, Sato assumed the lead once more, with a 3.5 second gap over Castroneves. He wasn't completely untouchable though as Castroneves closed up as Sato lost grip behind the lapped traffic of Charlie Kimball.

With 54 laps to go, Ryan Hunter-Reay  made a bold move up the inside of Helio Castroneves to snatch second place then took the lead just one lap later. Sato continued to loose ground as Castroneves began to hound him but was unable to pass until lap 199 when Takuma Sato came in to pit. he emerged one lap down in seventh place.

The leaders pitted on lap 213 as a caution came out due to an incident with Ana Beatriz . Hunter-Reay and Castroneves emerged still in first and second place. Will Power moved up to third whilst EJ Viso moved back to fourth. Scott Dixon was fifth off pit road.

The race resumed with 31 laps to go. Ryan Hunter-Reay took off with the Penske pair of Helio Castroneves and Will Power held up by the lapped car of Ed Carpenter. Racing at a speed of over 160mph, Hunter-Reay was able to extend his lead to over three seconds by lap 230.

Whilst Hunter-Reay had a strong lead as he approached traffic, Will Power began to close in on Helio Castroneves but the Penske teammates couldn't capitalise on Hunter-Reay hitting lapped traffic as the Andretti driver held a lead of over four seconds as the race went into it's final ten laps.

The Penske cars never gave up though with the two coming close to colliding on lap 246. Castroneves stayed ahead of Power though.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was untouchable though and he took the win by almost five seconds, his third win at Milwaukee and second in a row. Helio Castroneves held on for second with Will Power fourth. Hunter-Reay's Andretti team mates EJ Viso and James Hinchcliffe finished fourth and fifth. After a fairly quiet race, Scott Dixon finished in sixth, ahead of Takuma Sato who lead 109 laps of the race. Dario Franchitti, Justin Wilson and Tony Kanaan rounded out the top 10. Pole sitter and early race favourite Marco Andretti was classified in 20th place, 65 laps down. Only eight cars finished on the lead lap.

Helio Castroneves continues to lead the championship by 16 points over Ryan Hunter-Reay who pushes Marco Andretti down to third in the standings, 50 points adrift of the lead. Takuma Sato moves up to fourth in the standings, 76 points off the lead, and Scott Dixon fifth 78 points back.

The next race in the IZOD IndyCar series is next week when the series returns to the Iowa Speedway on the 23rd of June for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 where Andretti Autosport will want to continue their strong record there after winning each of the last three races and four out of six events contested at the 0.875 mile facility.

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