Jun 15, 2013
WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Can Ryan Hunter-Reay catch lightning in a bottle again?
The 32-year-old Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident earned his second consecutive victory in the Milwaukee IndyFest, passing race leader Takuma Sato on Lap 198 of 250 and going on to win by 4.809 seconds over Helio Castroneves.
Will Power finished third for his first podium of the season in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. E.J. Viso, with a season-best fourth place, and James Hinchcliffe -- Andretti Autosport teammates to Hunter-Reay -- also were in the top five.
The last back-to-back winner at Milwaukee was Tony Kanaan in 2006-07, when he was driving for the Andretti team. It was the 47th IZOD IndyCar Series victory for the team and the fifth at the historic Milwaukee Mile.
Click it: Milwaukee IndyFest box score
"It’s just a huge win for us," said team owner Michael Andretti, whose Andretti Sports Marketing arm was the event promoter for the second year. "Last year, this win kicked-started Ryan’s year. Hopefully it’s going to do it again. So happy for everybody on this team and so proud of everybody. All the cars ran really competitive today and all weekend."
Last June, Hunter-Reay held off Kanaan at the historic Mile to jump-start his championship drive. He vaulted from seventh in the standings to fourth with the victory, and continued with consecutive wins at Iowa Speedway and Toronto. He secured the title in the season finale by three points over Power.
"The team did just awesome today," said Hunter-Reay, who started fourth in the No. 1 DHL car. "We had varying levels of grip through the whole race, different levels of balance, and we just stuck with it. The other guys (Castroneves and Takuma Sato) had such great cars. I thought we might have not had a good enough car to win it, and we just pushed through in the end. We had the balance we needed."
Third in the championship entering this Father's Day weekend race, Hunter-Reay was 27 points behind Castroneves. He heads into the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by DEKALB next week 16 points behind the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, who started 17th in the No. 3 PPG Team Penske car.
"It was a great day for us," said Castroneves, who won the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway a week earlier and is the lone driver to complete every lap this season. "Starting from the back, it was tough. Yesterday I stayed late talking to Jonathan (Diuguid), my engineer, on what we were going to do with the car.
"It was tough, but today it definitely paid off. We were a little conservative and we had to be patient. In the end, it was a great job by the PPG boys. It’s not a win, but you know what, I’m very, very happy."
An electrical issue on the No. 25 RC Cola car ruined the day for pole sitter Marco Andretti, who entered the race second in the standings and led 61 laps early on. Following repairs, Andretti re-entered the race on Lap 137 and soldiered on to not lose any additional points. He remains third in the championship (50 points behind) after placing 20th.
Andretti has won and finished second the past two years at Iowa Speedway.
Scott Dixon recorded his third top 10 in four races in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car and Sato, who led a field-high 109 laps, was seventh in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing. Justin Wilson notched his sixth top-10 finish in the nine races, while Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan rounded out the top 10.