Lewis: Milwaukee as exciting as any in IndyCar

Ryan Hunter-Reay takes the checkered flag at the 2013 Milwaukee Mile. (AP/Jeffrey Phelps)

This past weekend we saw how exciting and competitive the racing can be in the Izod IndyCar Series on the Milwaukee Mile right from the start. Three Andretti Autosport cars: Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti were three wide on lap No. 1, each wanting to be at the head of the field. There was plenty of other battling going on throughout the field over the 250 race laps, but in the end Hunter-Reay had his second victory of the season, his second in a row at Milwaukee and moved one spot closer to the top of the championship point standings.

The defending series champion took the lead with just over 50 laps remaining and pulled out nearly a five second lead by the finish. As noted in the event preview, this was the race that jumpstarted Ryan’s charge toward the championship, and he along with his team would love a repeat performance.

The two other big teams also seem to be rounding into form and that should make for a very interesting second half of the year.

Team Penske scooped the other two podium positions with Helio Castroneves finishing second and Will Power claiming third, his first podium of the season. Castroneves has finished outside the Top 10 only once this year at Brazil and his win at Texas the previous week and consistent finishes keep him on top of the point standings. It was good to see Power so racy, hopefully it continues.

Two other Andretti cars rounded out the top five, with EJ Viso and Canadian James Hinchcliffe finishing fourth & fifth respectively.

All four Andretti cars were competitive, the only speed bump being an electrical issue with Marco Andretti’s machine. Marco finished 20th and fell from second in the overall standings to third.

Both Team Target cars finished in the Top 10: Scott Dixon was sixth and Dario Franchitti came home eighth. Dixon has been in the mix at several events this year and Franchitti’s early season trouble now seems well behind him. It was an impressive run for the Scot to come from the back of the field at the start due to a disappointing qualifying run, combined with a penalty for an unapproved engine change, and score a good result.

All in all, it was a fun race with plenty of action as drivers battled for position. This would be the second successful event in a row managed by Michael Andretti’s company and hopefully it continues to rebound from some poorly attended years.

Some insist that Milwaukee must remain on the schedule due to its rich history with IndyCar. It’s wonderful to have memories but this is also a business and it has to make financial sense for all parties involved.

Was the race a sell out? No. And getting an accurate crowd estimate can be like finding a Canadian Mayor without controversy these days. But if all the vested parties continue to work together, it appears Milwaukee can again be a mainstay on the IndyCar schedule.

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