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IndyCar Race Recap: Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by XYQ

IndyCar Race Recap: Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by XYQ

*In A Nutshell:* Ryan Hunter-Reay gave team owner Michael Andretti a win in his own race in Milwaukee. Andretti's company Andretti Sports Marketing was the promoter of the race. Hunter-Reay was strong from the beginning, starting the race in second and staying in the top five pretty much all day before taking the lead for the first time on lap 142. He never gave up the top spot after that. Tony Kanaan came home second followed by James Hinchcliffe, Oriol Servia and EJ Viso. *Key Moment:* Helio Castroneves went with an alternate strategy and stayed on track to gain the lead when pretty much everyone else pitted under caution on lap 97. Hunter-Reay patiently ran him down and passed him when Castroneves' older tires started to wear out. Once in the lead, Hunter-Reay flexed his muscle and held off all challengers for the final 84 laps. Read More »

IndyCar Race Recap: Fast and Furious Firestone 550K

IndyCar Race Recap: Fast and Furious Firestone 550K

*In A Nutshell:* The pack racing that characterized races at tracks like Texas was the result of cars with so much downforce that all drivers had to do was mat it and drive. It was eliminated this time around by giving the new car set up options that required drivers to manage tires and adjustments throughout the stint and made the car very difficult to handle at times. It put the race back into the hands of the drivers who had to use all their skills to keep control. Cars came on strong and cars faded meaning a lot of juggling of position through the field, and overall, it ended up being an anything can happen kind of night. Read More »

A Last-Lap Thriller For The Ages: Indy 500 Race Recap

A Last-Lap Thriller For The Ages: Indy 500 Race Recap

*In A Nutshell:* With new cars, new engines and no clear favorite emerging, the hype going in promised an up-for-grabs, wide open contest where anything might happen. So often, things don’t live up to the hype, but not this time. The 2012 Indy 500 featured a record 35 lead changes among ten drivers, sixteen cars finished on the lead lap, and the event was unpredictable right up until the final moments. Defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti hadn’t run particularly well in the first four races of the season, qualified way back in 16th, and was barely mentioned before the race, but at the end of the day he was drinking the milk in Victory Lane for the third time despite a pit road incident that nearly destroyed his day. Mission accomplished, IndyCar. Read More »

IndyCar Race Recap: “Power”ing Through The Honda Grand Prix Of Alabama

IndyCar Race Recap: “Power”ing Through The Honda Grand Prix Of Alabama

*In A Nutshell:* A red flag during Saturday’s qualifying session negated Will Power’s fast lap and left him ninth on the starting grid. He wasn’t happy with that result, thinking he couldn’t win the race from that far back. Good pit strategy, good tire strategy and patience put Power in front by the end of the day where he drove away for his second consecutive victory at Barber Motorsports Park. Scott Dixon finished second followed by Helio Castroneves, Graham Rahal, and rookie Simon Pagenaud who improved on his series best finish from last week by one position. Read More »

IndyCar Race Recap: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IndyCar Race Recap: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

*In a Nutshell:* Helio Castroneves in a Chevrolet beat Honda driver Scott Dixon to the line by 5.5292 seconds to win the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Castroneves and Dixon both employed a two stop strategy, the right call for the mainly green flag race. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe finished third and fourth. Penske Racing’s Ryan Briscoe rounded out the top five. *Key Moment:* Scott Dixon pitted for the final time with 31 laps to go and Castroneves made his stop one lap later. Dixon cycled out ahead of Castroneves but Castroneves made a bold pass to the outside of Dixon in turn one with 28 laps remaining and then passed leader J.R. Hildebrand, showed some patented Penske power, and drove away to the win. Read More »

Frontstretch Breakdown: 2011 Indy 500

Frontstretch Breakdown: 2011 Indy 500

*In a Nutshell:* Leading laps is nice, but if you are only going to lead one, make it the right one. Dan Wheldon did. When rookie J.R. Hildebrand hit the wall in the fourth turn on the final lap while leading, Wheldon slipped by just a couple hundred yards before the finish line. It was the one that counted and he walks away with his second Indy 500 win. *For the Highlight Reel* Ah, but not so fast. Wheldon was immediately declared the winner but *Hildebrand’s Panther Racing team lodged a protest*. The caution was thrown when Hildebrand hit the wall but Wheldon drove by. The team contended that Wheldon could not pass Hildebrand with the caution out. Series officials eventually determined that Wheldon went by before the yellow and the win stands. In my opinion the win should stand even if Wheldon had gone by after the caution flew. After all, Hildebrand was the reason for the caution and his mangled car was wedged firmly in the wall at the time, even if he had continued forward motion. Since when does everyone have to stop and not pass the guy who has crashed? It’s not NASCAR, but wouldn’t that also fall under that bit about having to maintain a reasonable speed? Read More »

Frontstretch Breakdown: Indy 500

Frontstretch Breakdown: Indy 500

*In A Nutshell:* Great Scot! Really. While most of the attention after qualifying fell to Tony Kanaan and his Andretti Autosport teammates having a rough month of May, drivers like Paul Tracy who didn’t make the field, or Helio Castroneves and his quest for a fourth victory, Dario Franchitti garnered very little attention. That’s OK. He let his right foot do his talking instead, going out and dominating the race. He led 155 of 200 laps, scoring his second Indy 500 victory and fourth overall for owner Chip Ganassi. *For the Record Books:* So Helio Castroneves missed in his bid to become the fourth four-time winner of the race. Roger Penske missed in his bid to be the first car owner to win the race four times with two drivers. But Ganassi did not miss getting his name in the record books. Dario Franchitti, in tandem with Jamie McMurray, made him the first owner to win both the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 in the same year. Read More »

Everybody Loves Helio, But Can He Be Great?

Helio Castroneves, the always upbeat Brazilian with the infectious personality, is poised to add his name to the Indy 500 record book again. Sitting on the pole and considered an early favorite, he will be only the fourth driver to score four wins in the Memorial Day weekend classic if he can pull off the victory. Read More »

Beyond the Cockpit: Catching up with Rick Crawford

Beyond the Cockpit: Catching up with Rick Crawford

_Rick Crawford spent 2008 as one of Frontstretch.com’s Driver Diary contributors, and through this relationships fans got to keep up with Crawford not only on the track, but off the track as well. While he no longer contributes a regular diary, Crawford knows fans enjoyed hearing about some of the things he likes to do in his spare time and thought everyone might like an update on some of his ongoing activities, as well as the inside scoop on the 2009 season at Circle Bar Racing._ _Toni Montgomery recently visited with Crawford at his race shop just behind Turn 2 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Crawford’s shop has a lot of history. It was once home to NASCAR champion Alan Kulwicki and Crawford works out of the same office Kulwicki once used._ Read More »

Indy 500 Breakdown: From Zero to Hero for Castroneves

Indy 500 Breakdown: From Zero to Hero for Castroneves

*In a Nutshell:* Helio Castroneves, just recently returned to the track after acquittal on tax evasion charges, probably gave the IRL the feel good story of the year at Indianapolis. Taking the lead away from Scott Dixon with just under 60 laps to go, he never gave it up in coasting to his third Indy 500 win. An emotional Castroneves, who started from the pole, also scored a record 15th victory in the big race for team owner Roger Penske. Dan Wheldon finished second, followed by Danica Patrick in third, Townsend Bell fourth, and Will Power rounding out the top 5. *Who Should Have Won:* Anyone who was driving for Penske or Chip Ganassi, the two reigning super teams in the IndyCar Series. Just look at the leaderboard for proof. Four guys led this race: two of them drove for Roger Penske, and two of them for Chip Ganassi. There were some great runs from other teams, and the big four didn’t sweep the top 5 after some problems on pit road for several of them; but when it comes right down to it, they still have a firm hold on things in this series while everyone else is just playing catch up. Read More »