Traditionally the Milwaukee Mile follows the week after the Indy 500. It’s quite a contrast from the big Speedway to the humble one-mile oval in suburban Milwaukee which is the USA’s oldest racetrack. Originally a dirt horse track, Milwaukee was paved in 1954 and for many years there were two Indy car races there, one directly after Indianapolis and the second in August.
Back in 1963, Jim Clark scored the first Indy car victory for a rear-engined car aboard a Lotus 29-Ford in the now-abandoned August race.
On Sunday at Milwaukee defending Indy car champion Scott Dixon came through to record his second win of the year and take the IRL championship lead. Dixon qualified fourth and was in the hunt all the way. For most of the distance Scott ran second to Ryan Briscoe but he was able to pass Briscoe in traffic with just 24 laps to go and drive away to a convincing win.
“Man, what a long race!” Dixon exclaimed. “We had a lot of traffic and traffic was key today. I remember crashing two cars in four laps at this place in 2005 so I’m stoked that we were so fast today. We had a great race with Dario as well. I’m so happy to win at this place because it’s so tough.
“The problem all day was trying to get a clean way through the traffic. Briscoe and I and everybody else got caught up sometimes. I had a run on Ryan several times and he kinda ran me to the bottom and that was how I got him. He tried to go low and then I got a run on him high, and got underneath him going into turn three.”
Briscoe was on the pole and led most of the race but was beaten in the end by Dixon. “Scott was there all day and I just got held up a little bit by Scheckter,” Briscoe commented. “I tried to go down the inside and really had to slow it down with understeer, and Scott got a run on me. I could see Scott’s car was just a little bit faster as the tyres got older. He could carry a little more momentum through the middle of the corners. But it was a great result and the points are very close. It was fun and exciting. I love this track.”
At the Indy 500 the week before Dixon, and team-mate Dario Franchitti, led the most laps but both ran into trouble in the pits on their last stops. As a result they found themselves back in the pack and could finish no better than sixth and seventh. But there were no such problems at Milwaukee for Chip Ganassi’s team as Franchitti again led some laps and came home a very competitive third behind Briscoe.
“I’m really happy,” Dario grinned. “The car ran very well today. I got into the lead and then got held up in traffic and Scott and Ryan got past. That was my story of the day. I didn’t do a good enough job timing a couple of passes and they got past me. I had a couple of goes at Ryan at the end but just wasn’t close enough. It was a lot of fun to be back here racing at Milwaukee in an Indy car.
“Normally, the Target guys are well-known for their pitstops,” Dario added. “Last week at Indy was a little bump, but they were back on form today. They did a great job.”
Added Dixon: “Working with Dario has been fantastic. He’s a great team-mate and we’re just trying to work on the finer points to make these cars better and I’m just so stoked to win here.”
Graham Rahal also drove a good race at Milwaukee. Rahal qualified on the outside of the front row and ran with the leaders all the way. He finished a strong fourth ahead of Danica Patrick, Raphael Matos and Marco Andretti.
Indy winner Helio Castroneves had a bad weekend however. Castroneves crashed in qualifying and started the race from the back of the grid. He was unable to recover, making slow progress through the backfield and eventually finishing three laps down in eleventh place.
After five of 17 races Dixon leads the IRL championship with 161 points, four more than Franchitti and Briscoe. Danica Patrick’s fifth place moves her up to fourth in points ahead of Castroneves.