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Hunter-Reay charges to Milwaukee win

The initial attempt at a restart had been thwarted by an unusually slow Justin Wilson, and while he was up to speed for the next try at a green flag the cause for his initial sluggishness became graphically clear on lap 94 when smoke and flame burst from the back of the #18 Dale Coyne Racing car.

"It was a disappointing end to the day," said the Englishman. "We had a great race car and we were making good progress during that first stint, picking guys off one by one. Then we got caught out with that yellow and after that we were trying to come back through

"On that last restart I lost second gear, which is why I dropped to the back," he explained. "We found third gear eventually, but having to use that for the restart made it tough. I was still able to pass guys, so I'm just disappointed that we're out of the race."

Unfortunately his compatriot and team mate James Jakes would have little better luck: he got taken out of the race just minutes later when Takuma Sato spun on the low line and crashed into Jakes, putting them both into the SAFER barrier.

"I just think Takuma got low on the inside and was loose and I was caught on the outside, and he just came straight in the side of me," he said. "You can see it there on the TV. Maybe his banzai moves are a little bit too much at times."

Sato refuted that 'banzai' comment and pointed out that he had been racing for a top position while Jakes was already a lap down at the time the accident happened.

"After the restart I was side-by side a couple of times and one stage it was with James Jakes, who was a lap down," explained the Japanese former F1 driver, now with Rahal Letterman Lannigan. "We were side-by side from Turn 4 and on the main straight into Turn 1 I was on the inside and was kind of boxed in. I tried to hang on but the track was so slippery on the extreme inside. The car started sliding and we ran out of space."

Helio Castroneves had taken the lead under the previous Wilson-sparked caution by staying out while others pitted under yellow, and he led again into the next waved-off restart on lap 102 and the successful one next time around on lap 103, the Penske team clearly intent on making a long-run fuel-conservation strategy work for him. It looked like his main challengers were set to be Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ganassi's Scott Dixon.

Dixon had been one of the big movers so far in the race, slicing through the field to get as high as third place having started from 21st position following a lacklustre qualifying and a ten-place grid penalty for an engine change. Just when it seemed that everything was coming together for the Kiwi came news that he'd been handed a drive-thru penalty for jumping the restart, putting him right back down again.

Dixon uttered the usual protestations of innocence, and the TV replays showed him doing ... precisely nothing wrong. Everyone scratched their heads. Then the tape was wound back another minute to that waved-off restart (aborted by Castroneves going too early) and yes, arguably that showed Dixon moving too soon, but then only because Viso had been slow to react and slowed up everyone else. In any case, the green flag had never been shown that time so Dixon could hardly be penalised for a restart that never happened.




Related Pictures

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Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves at the Milaukee IndyFest - Wisconsin, 16 June (c) 2012, Lesley Ann Miller LAT Photo USA (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Eventual winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (#28) holds off a challenge for the lead from race runner-up Tony Kanaan (#11) on the final restart at the Milaukee IndyFest - Wisconsin, 16 June. (c) 2012, F. Peirce Williams LAT Photo USA (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates in victory lane at the Milaukee IndyFest - Wisconsin, 16 June (c) 2012, Lesley Ann Miller LAT Photo USA (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Scott Dixon is congratulated by Dario Franchitti after winning the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves goes off-course as the field streams by during the opening lap of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates after qualifying fastest Saturday, August 29, 2015, capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Power, the 2014 Champion Driver, has an outside chance to repeat during this final race of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Hunter-Reay reviews telemetry data in his pit stand during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay apexes the Turn 9A chicane during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay sits in his Andretti Autosport Honda on pit lane prior to practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Oriol Servia is strapped into his Andretti Autosport Honda prior to practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Oriol Servia on course during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Oriol Servia is strapped into his Andretti Autosport Honda prior to practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti kicks up some dust in the Turn 9A chicane complex during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Takuma Sato kicks up some dust in the Turn 9A chicane during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The Chevrolet of Will Power sports a tribute sticker for Justin Wilson at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, and Graham Rahal at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Graham Rahal, and James Hinchcliffe bring their machines across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)

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