There are now four drivers that have won two races this season in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Sebastien Bourdais joined the others (Juan Montoya, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden) today as he dominated the second half of the race at the Milwaukee Mile. It was career win number 34 for the Frenchman, which is 7th on the all-time wins list. Bourdais led a race-high 118 of the 250 laps on Sunday, and no one could take the lead from him in the later stages of the event. After a restart on lap 232, he pulled away to a 2.2366 second victory.
Helio Castroneves turned in a Herculean effort, finishing runner-up after starting last (24th) because his team wasn’t in line for inspection and qualifying earlier in the day. The Brazilian driver improved his position by 22 spots, and got himself back into championship contention. Graham Rahal continued his impressive season, and joined Bourdais and Castroneves on the podium. Championship leader Juan Montoya and Pole sitter Josef Newgarden rounded out the top five. Montoya rebounded nicely from a pit speed violation on lap 100, which resulted in a drive through penalty.
Click here to see the Race Results for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250
For Newgarden, it was another top five finish, but early on it looked as though he was about to win his third race of the season. He led 109 laps, dominated both practice sessions, and captured the Pole just hours before the race. He noted that his car just wasn’t as good when it wasn’t in clean air. Montoya built his lead in the championship, which is now 54 points over second place Dixon, with Rahal and Castroneves tied for third, 69 points behind. Defending series champion Will Power is in fifth, after another horrible weekend.
On lap 131, Ryan Briscoe lost control of his car coming out of Turn 4. He spun and collected Power, who had nowhere to go. The Team Penske driver finished a disappointing 22nd. It’s the second straight DNF for Power, who now must really turn it on if he wants to defend his crown. The Ganassi teammates of Tony Kanaan and Dixon finished sixth and seventh, and Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud, and Ed Carpenter rounded out the top ten.
Ryan Hunter-Reay’s dismal season continued, as he finished the race in 13th position. The day wasn’t any better for two of his Andretti teammates either, as Carlos Munoz came home 15th, and Justin Wilson blew an engine and finished 18th. Rookie Sage Karam qualified well (3rd) but brushed the wall and only completed 183 laps, finishing in 19th place. Briscoe started on the front row but ended up 21st after his spin. There were nine lead changes among six drivers, and three cautions for 36 total laps.
For Bourdais, it was simply a dominating performance, with an incredible car.
With just four races remaining on the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar, Montoya is still the man to beat. The next race on the schedule is the Iowa Corn 300 on July 18. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 8 PM ET on Saturday.
Will Power: “I saw Ryan (Briscoe) start to spin there, so I went out wide to try and miss him and he clipped me and I went up into the wall.” (On his championship hopes): “There is no question it is going to make it tough, but we will keep focused and go on to the next one. … Yeah, you kind of get frustrated, but you just have to keep moving on. Eventually it will change and we will have one go right for us. Just got to keep focused and move on to the next one.”
Juan Montoya: “It was completely my mistake on the pit road speeding penalty. I had my finger on the (pit road speed limiter) button, but it’s really bumpy getting onto pit road, so I don’t know if I didn’t hit it or if I hit it twice. That put us behind a bit. With about 120 laps to go, I told the guys that I think we can make it on one more stop and we did it. It’s great. Our Verizon Chevy was really good today. We grew our points lead with only four races to go. The crowd was fantastic. We always want to see the stands full when we race. It was a solid crowd today and that made it more fun behind the wheel.”
Helio Castroneves: “I was pushing to the limit, no question (about it.) I knew the Hitachi car would be very good, but the 11 car (Sebastien Bourdais) was very fast. That seemed to be the key here. That was a hell of a job by the guys. We had a little miscue with qualifying, but we never lost faith. We focused on the race. I’m just so proud and honored to be part of this team. ”
Stefano Coletti: “It’s a shame today with what happened. We had a great car and were having a great run today, so I am sure we could have had a great result. We will work hard for Iowa next weekend and hopefully can get a great result there.”
Ryan Briscoe: “It was a big shame. We had an awesome race car, again. I’m really proud of the whole Arrow Electronics team for their hard work, and for giving me a car that I can go out and race hard. It wasn’t meant to be today. We had a couple of malfunctions during the pit stops that set us back and we ended up going off strategy and staying on the lead lap, which was huge. With half the race to go, we were still in a fighting position to go for the win today. On the restart, we had a lot of cars behind us on new tires and we just sort of got put in a box there in Turn 3. It felt like I drove into a vacuum and next it felt like the tires were off the ground and I was doing a slow pirouette. It was a real shame. I hate bringing home a busted race car, but we’ll fight again next week.”
James Jakes: “I don’t really know what to say. The whole team worked really hard this weekend and we had a great car. We got caught in lapped traffic a little bit, but we were running sixth, seventh, eighth, and we really could’ve had a good day. I think anybody could’ve finished in the top three today. The guys that run up front just have to manage the situation. It’s a shame because this isn’t our first engine issue, but we’ll bounce back strong at the next event. Qualifying was great and we had a quick car. It’s a shame we don’t get any points, but we’ll move on.”
Sage Karam: “The marbles are just so bad here. I was trying to make it one more stop to get the fuel mileage the team was asking me to get. We were getting the mileage, but they said don’t lose any positions while doing it, too. So I was just racing really hard there with (Gabby) Chaves, and I guess it was just a racing thing. I’m trying to hold my line, he’s trying to hold his. I got on the right side of the marbles and, once that happened, the car just wouldn’t turn and we had contact with the wall.”
Scott Dixon: “We had a tough day with the Cottonelle car. We went off sequence and led for a while, and the race kind of came to us later on with the way the yellows fell. In the end we shuffled back a bit and lost some valuable points, which is tough to swallow with just four races to go. We’ll keep fighting, though, and be ready to make up ground in Iowa next weekend.”
Tony Kanaan: “I love racing here at The Milwaukee Mile and today’s race was a fun one to be a part of. The No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet was fast and we proved that by running up near the front all day. I think we had a chance to finish higher than sixth, but it just didn’t happen for us. A sixth-place finish is OK, but I obviously would’ve been much happier with a win. It is what it is and now we’ll shift our focus to Iowa.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “On these ovals, you can go from hero to zero and back to hero again. I guess that’s my story. It’s so much about momentum when you can feel one with the car, and today the guys gave me an awesome car. It felt pretty good off the truck and I thought, ‘This could be a pretty good weekend.’ And then we messed up qualifying. Never did I think we could come up through the field and pass everybody. It’s just unbelievable. It’s what these places do to you. When the car is right, it’s so, so special.”
Takuma Sato: “It was a long, tough race. The first stint we were struggling so much so after the pit stop, we went a lap down. Tried to get the lap back but it didn’t work the way we wanted and we had to really fight hard. At the end of the day, we got back on the lead lap, but there were less than 20 laps to go. With everyone on the same age tires, it was difficult to overtake. It was a tough day.”
Graham Rahal: “These Mi-Jack Steak ‘n Shake boys did a heck of a job today. We’ve been working really hard, just putting ourselves in a position to succeed. This team put us in that position today. They got us three spots in the pits and I got a couple more on the restart and it was clear sailing from there. We were looking at a three-stop strategy early on and I think we were the only ones that could do it and then we bailed and I was frustrated at the time, but with the way the yellows worked out it was fine. I was a lot quicker than Helio (Castroneves) at the end, but I just couldn’t get around him. This is a good points day for us. I think we are tied for third. It’s been a good year for us and this is No. 5 for podiums. We wanted to beat Helio (Castroneves) bad, wanted to pull that gap in points, but it looks like he’s tied with us. We’ll just keep pushing away. We’re proud to fly the flag for Honda. That’s our goal, that’s our job and we’re proud to do it.”
Tristan Vautier: “We were decent in the first stint, I mean, everybody was struggling a bit in that first stint. We went a lap down after that first stop and from then on, it was a long day. The car felt good, we struggled a bit in traffic, but by myself, it was really good. Some moments we had some real flashes of speed, but obviously not good enough. It is a shame because everybody worked so hard and we wanted to make up for Fontana. We have Iowa next week, so not a long wait until we can do better.”
Ed Carpenter: “Our finish was a good recovery from where we started. It was a long, tough day. We had a decent shot with the way the pit stops cycled through. We were running third on the last restart, but we were the last car in line on old tires. It was really tough in dirty air today. We needed to be better in those conditions, but I think even the best cars struggled in traffic on old tires. At the end of the day, from what happened in qualifying to get a top 10 and finally finish a race, I’ll take it as a positive. To have one top five and one top 10 today, with Josef’s first pole, all in all it was a good weekend for the entire team.”
Simon Pagenaud: “It was a good run. We started 17th. We missed the balance a little bit in qualifying. Milwaukee isn’t an easy place to pass. I’m pretty happy. Once again, it was a really good performance, but again, the results don’t exactly show the performance. I’m fairly happy. I think we made a good improvement on the setup for the car and the way I want it. Now we are working for next year really and we are starting to scratch the surface. We don’t get any testing so it is good we do it during the race. It just takes time to get a team to fully come together. I’m being patient here and we are getting there. The guys were amazing during pit stops today. It is just details to work on. Most of these guys have been with the team for a long time, so I’m pretty happy where we are at. We just need this year to learn and we will come back stronger next year. Congrats to Chevy for winning with my fellow Frenchman Seb (Bourdais). Very happy for him. He is having an incredible season.”
Justin Wilson: “The car was working great, balance was fantastic; we were able to cut by people and exit on the inside, get really good runs off the corner. I was really pleased with the No. 25 Honda. We had a couple of things that didn’t go our way – had a (tire) gun that failed on the pit stop, so we lost a lap there. A few laps later, something put us out of the race. I’m not sure what it is yet, but we just lost power and picked up a huge vibration. I just clutched it and turned the engine off. It’s a tough day; I felt like we were good, we kept passing everyone and moving forward, something would happen and then just kept moving our way back up to the front again, so it’s just how it goes.”
Carlos Munoz: “Another race that didn’t go our way. Before the last yellow we were running good in eighth and then people that had to pit. The yellow helped them, but it didn’t help us. We had a bad stop and couldn’t make up those positions… another up-and-down race for us.”
Marco Andretti: “I don’t know what to say; it was a frustrating eighth-place finish. I’m mad that I let (Scott) Dixon by at the end, it was just another twist of the knife. Frustrating day.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We had a good race going in the DHL Honda. We tried for strategy and it didn’t end up working out – just another day where nothing worked out. We lost three spots during the last stop, so it’s certainly frustrating.”
Jack Hawksworth: “It was not a very good day. It’s never good when you start at the back here anyway because you lose track position easy and more so this year than last year because it was very difficult to pass unless you are much faster than the car ahead. We’d just come in and did our first stop and then we had a problem with our throttle pedal. We tried to fix it and then the issue came back and we had to come in and fix it again. We went back out and tried to stay out of everybody’s way and let those guys race. In the end we just did a bit of testing for ourselves, which was interesting but not the day we wanted.”
Josef Newgarden: “We just had to do too much work later in the race to try and get by people. I could only get so many spots, but our car was fast. It’s been fast all weekend, the Direct Supply guys really put an amazing car together for us. It’s just that I needed clean air, probably more so than other guys. To get that was difficult. When we had it in the beginning, I think we were the fastest car in the field, for sure. It was all about track position today, we lost out on that a little bit but it was still a great effort and a great weekend for CFH Racing.”
Charlie Kimball: “It was a tough race today at The Milwaukee Mile. I was happy with the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen for most of the race today – we just couldn’t ever get up front. We started the race off really challenging with the handling and it just got better and better throughout the afternoon. I’m happy for my teammates with two of them finishing in the top 10. We’ll just shift our focus to Iowa and make sure we’re ready to go next weekend.”
Gabby Chaves: “Well, another race, moving forward, every time getting some points. I think we had a really strong car today, unfortunately just kind of got out of luck with that last caution. I think with the cars that weren’t going to make it on fuel that were ahead of us would have put us into the top seven. That’s that, but we did the best we could. We had a good enough car and we raced hard. So we’re happy with the job the crew did.”
Race Photos via IndyCar