The Frontstretch: IndyCar In-Depth: Milwaukee IndyFest by Matt Stallknecht -- Thursday June 13, 2013

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IndyCar In-Depth: Milwaukee IndyFest

Matt Stallknecht · Thursday June 13, 2013


Whats News?

The IZOD IndyCar Series heads to the Milwaukee Mile this week for Milwaukee IndyFest, a race that is promoted by the marketing arm of Michael Andretti’s personal company. Milwaukee is the second most historic stop on the calendar, so seeing that Andretti has managed to keep this race afloat for another year is comforting to see. In terms of midweek news, there was quite a bit of fallout after last weekend’s race at Texas.

The big story this week has been the penalties levied against Penske Racing after race winner Helio Castroneves’ car failed post race technical inspection. All told, Castroneves was fined $35,000 dollars and the team was charged with a loss of 15 entrant points as a result of the failed inspection. INDYCAR has been fast and loose with penalties as of late so this didn’t come as a huge shock, especially with how unusually strong Castroneves was at the end of the race

In other news, new INDYCAR CEO Derrick Walker was forced to put his tail between his legs this week in the wake of a snooze-inducing race at Texas. Walker acknowledged that he and his team made a faux pas when formulating the aero/tire package for the Texas race, to which Walker stated, “In the end, I decided to stick with what we had and I think based on the outcome I was wrong. I want to apologize to the fans, teams and drivers for making the wrong choice but we’ll learn from it and get it right.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay won his first oval track race at Milwaukee last year after team owner Michael Andretti stepped in to save the historic event.

Track Preview: The Milwaukee Mile

When you think of historic racing facilities around the United States, Milwaukee is without a doubt among the first tracks that come to mind. Built in 1903, Milwaukee is the oldest continually operating motorsports facility on Earth. The track is exactly 1 mile in length and features 9.25 degrees of banking, making it one of the most technical ovals on the circuit. For years, Milwaukee served as the follow-up race to the Indianapolis 500, and stood tall as one of the most important auto races in the Midwest. Management difficulties over the past two decades nearly led to the death of the track, but a recent revitalization effort by INDYCAR team owner Michael Andretti has essentially saved the track. Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 2012 running of Milwaukee IndyFest in what would end up being the first oval victory of his career.

What’s the Points (Driver Standings): Helio Castroneves took command of the points standings after the race in Texas, extending his lead to 22 points over Marco Andretti. Andretti’s teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay sits third in the series standings 27 points behind Castroneves. Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato round out the Top 5 as the series heads into Milwaukee.

Featured Driver: Marco Andretti

One of these weekends, it’s going to happen. Marco Andretti will win a race, and possibly more, in 2013. But that wouldn’t exactly surprise anyone at this stage of the game. The real surprise has been how Andretti has arrived to this point. One year ago, Andretti was at the ultimate low point of his career. He was deep in the teens in the series point standings, had just lost the Indianapolis 500 after leading the most laps, and was showing serious deficiencies in the series road events. One year later, he is a championship contender. Andretti once again was a serious force to be reckoned with in Texas, and could’ve easily won the event had his team worked their strategy a bit better. Andretti’s maturation as a driver has not gone unnoticed this year, and his success or failure from here to the end of the season could play a big role in INDYCAR’s hopeful plans of resurging back into the mainstream world of sports. Look for him to once again make some noise in Milwaukee.

Weekly Picks:
I decided to go with defending winner Ryan Hunter-Reay as my pick to win this week. P. Huston Ladner decided to go with Hunter-Reay’s teammate Marco Andretti. Toni Montgomery is going with Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan.

Any Other News:

If you are an INDYCAR fan who is starved for an INDYCAR video game, rest assured, you won’t have to wait long to be able to take control of a virtual version of the DW12. As part of the announcement of the new XBOX One video game system due out this Fall, a new auto racing game will be released alongside the system called Forza Motorsport 5 which will feature both Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as multiple DW12 cars featuring real liveries from teams such as Ganassi, Penske, Andretti, and Rahal. As an avid gamer, I can assure you that this is something you will want to keep an eye on.

Upcoming: After the IndyCar Series tour leaves Milwaukee, the series will continue its summer stretch into the Iowa Speedway for the Iowa Corn Indy 250. This was arguably one of the best races of the season last year, so you will most definitely not want to miss this one. The race will air live on the NBC Sports Network starting at 2:30 PM EST on Sunday, June 23rd. The race will also be aired live on satellite radio on Sirius XM Channel 211.

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