MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Mile hasn't seen this much activity since, well, June 15 of last year. That was the date of the Milwaukee IndyFest.
Today, 19 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers were on the 1.015-mile oval to prepare for the Aug. 17 ABC Supply Co. Inc. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers. The lineup swelled as teams scheduled to test June 11 remained in the area as a persistent rain canceled the event, and the were joined by three teams that had tested June 10 on the .875-mile Iowa Speedway.
Andretti Autosport (Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz); Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Graham Rahal); Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (Josef Newgarden); Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Mikhail Aleshin) and Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports (Simon Pagenaud) will move on to Iowa Speedway for a session June 13. The backstretch will be open to spectators for the 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Central) session.
The break between the Firestone 600 on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway and the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers on June 28-29 created one of the few team/manufacturer test windows during the compact 18-race season. Through eight races, there have been six different winners and pole sitters. Will Power of Team Penske, with two victories and a pair of Verizon P1 Awards, is the championship points leader by 39 over teammate Helio Castroneves.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, third in the standings and the two-time defending winner of the Milwaukee IndyFest, said the testing program, especially at the little-used Mile, is important for drivers, crew and engineers.
"It’s definitely a thinking track, and if you ask any of the legends in the sport it’s definitely among their top two or three tracks," said Hunter-Reay, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion (in photo below). "Andretti Autosport has had great cars over the past five or six years and if you’re not qualifying on pole or up front there’s a lot of work to do. The track is always changing, the competition is always getting better. You have to be proactive in searching for a better car and pulling out the full capability of the driver.”
Testing continues next week at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway in preparation for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 on July 6. The Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DeKalb follows on July 12, and the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on July 19-20 completes six races in four consecutive weekends.
Scheduled to test at Pocono Raceway are Dale Coyne Racing (Carlos Huertas, Justin Wilson) and Team Penske (Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Power) on June 17 and on June 19 Ed Carpenter Racing (Ed Carpenter), KVSH Racing (Sebastien Bourdais), KV AFS Racing (Sebastian Saavedra), Rahal, Andretti and Hunter-Reay. Grandstands will be open to spectators both days.
Additionally, Chip Ganassi Racing (Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball), Aleshin and Pagenaud are scheduled to test at Sebring International Raceway.