Ryan Hunter-Reay continued Andretti Autosport’s domination at the Milwaukee Mile, winning the IndyCar event Saturday for the second year in a row.
Hunter-Reay became the first driver to win back-to-back races at the Mile since Tony Kanaan in 2006 and 2007 when he was driving for — you guessed it, Andretti.
”I love this place,” said Hunter-Reay, who won his third career race at Milwaukee.
”Every driver you ask, it’s the oval they respect the most. It’s hard to get it right. It opens up to two lanes and it creates some great racing.”
Andretti drivers have won five of the last nine races at the mile oval and nearly had a perfect day Saturday in a race that was promoted for the second year by Michael Andretti’s marketing company. Hunter-Reay got the win, E.J. Viso finished fourth and James Hinchcliffe was fifth.
The only blemish was pole-sitter Marco Andretti, who led the first 62 laps before his day fell apart with an electrical issue.
”He let me down,” joked father Michael Andretti. ”I really feel bad for Marco. He was running really strong, really strong all weekend.”
But it was still a huge success for Andretti, who is in negotiations with IndyCar to promote the race next year.
”It’s just a huge win for us for sure,” Andretti said. ”Last year, this win kicked started Ryan’s year, hopefully it’s going to do it again. He did a great job and to win our race, the one that we promoted, is just awesome.”
For Hunter-Reay, it was the second win of the season for the defending IndyCar Series champion. And as Andretti said, it came at the site of the track he used to jump-start last year’s title run – Hunter-Reay reeled off three consecutive wins starting with Milwaukee last season to climb into the championship race.
This year, though, he got to celebrate an early Father’s Day gift with son, Ryden.
”Those last few laps I was thinking, ‘Man, I’ve got to do this for him,”’ Hunter-Reay said. ”It’s so special, he’s 6-months-old, getting to have my little guy here in Victory Lane is the best Father’s Day gift.”
IndyCar Series points leader Helio Castroneves was second and followed by Penske Racing teammate Will Power as Chevrolet swept the podium. It was the first podium finish this season for Power, who hasn’t won a race since Brazil last year.
He made a bold attempt to pass Castroneves for second in the closing laps before cautiously backing off a touch. Power said after the race he had to consider the big picture and that his teammate is the current points leader while racing for position.
”That was close, I wanted to race him very cleanly because he’s leading the championship,” Power said. ”I was like ‘Man, I don’t want to take you out.’ Helio continues to get good points, and it’s cool to get (my) car up on the podium. We’ve just got to keep chipping away and in the meantime, I’m going to help out Helio as much as I can. If I can beat him I will, and make some hay on the championship.”
Scott Dixon was sixth in the highest finishing Honda and was followed by Takuma Sato, who dominated the middle section of the race but was shuffled out of contention when Ana Beatriz brought out the final caution and pit cycles dropped him deep into the field. Still, it was the best finish for an A.J. Foyt Racing entry at Milwaukee since Foyt himself was fifth in 1988.
”The yellow came out and that was very bad timing for us because it put us behind those who hadn’t pitted yet,” Sato said. ”They were able to pit and get ahead of us which is why we lined up in seventh. Then they had fresher tires, too, so it was really tough to pass them back. It was still a great race, but it was so disappointing in the end. Really a shame.”
Dario Franchitti, Justin Wilson and Kanaan rounded out the top 10.
Marco Andretti wound up 20th and was passed by teammate Hunter-Reay for second in the IndyCar standings.