Ryan Hunter-Reay led the final 84 laps en route to delivering both his and his Andretti Autosport's team first win in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season at Saturday's Milwaukee IndyFest. Hunter-Reay's win comes in the race being promoted by his team boss, Michael Andretti.
The race was delayed an hour and a half by rain but still ran to its conclusion of 225 laps.
It's Hunter-Reay's second win at Milwaukee (he led all 250 laps in his 2004 Champ Car win) and atones for his 2011 race which lasted all of the first corner on the first lap before he lost control of his car.
"It was tough work," he said. "You really have to look after the tires, know when to use them, know when not to. Michael knows his way around this place. He was in my ears, coaching me, 'Make sure you have the tires when you need them.' We saved them when we needed them. We pounced, ready to go when somebody slipped up. On the restarts we were aggressive. The guys did a great job in the pits.
"I'll tell you what, though, 225 laps around here feels like a 500-mile race," he added. "It's a short little place, it adds up quick."
Tony Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe set or equaled their best results of 2012 in second and third. Oriol Servia, E.J. Viso and Helio Castroneves completed a Chevrolet sweep of the top six positions.
Kanaan, usually a restart demon, wasn't able to match Hunter-Reay on the final restart with just under 30 laps remaining.
"For me, it was a long day just because it's very unlikely from me not to attack on restarts," he said. "I didn't have anything for Ryan. Like I said, I felt the car was down, I didn't have enough speed. I was actually defending myself on restarts, which I realize I do not know how to do that. I did a very, very poor job on that.
"The last yellow, I said, 'You know what, that's it, I'm going to try to go as fast as I can,'" he added. "Ryan did a great job. I got a gap, and we had a lapped car in between us. I lost those two precious seconds there. After that, I knew it was over."
Hinchcliffe's day featured some back-and-forth with others throughout the field. A late race pass on Servia netted him his second podium of the season, but the first where he actually finished third (a penalty for Hunter-Reay at Long Beach promoted Hinchcliffe from fourth to third).
"Whether it's been road circuits, street circuits, speedways and short ovals, we've been quick, whether it is qualifying trim, race trim, and the results are showing," Hinchcliffe said. "We're finishing races, staying on lead laps and things like that. The consistency is paying off."
Alex Tagliani recorded his best result of 2012 in seventh, top Honda runner. Points leader Will Power finished just 12th, and leads Hinchcliffe by 31 points heading to the series' next race at Iowa next Saturday.
Several drivers crashed, including polesitter Dario Franchitti late in the going, and there were two sizeable engine failures for JR Hildebrand and Justin Wilson.
One of the more controversial moments in the race came as Scott Dixon was called for jumping a restart on lap 103, but the penalty was announced after the next restart. Confusion reigned as there was a question as to whether the correct replay was shown by the TV coverage, and after the race IndyCar president of competition Beaux Barfield admitted he'd made a mistake based on a clock error. Dixon ended the race 11th.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti DW12-Chevy 1h52m17.8119s
2. Tony Kanaan KV DW12-Chevy + 5.1029s
3. James Hinchcliffe Andretti DW12-Chevy + 7.2715s
4. Oriol Servia Dreyer & Reinbold DW12-Lotus + 9.8940s
5. EJ Viso KV DW12-Chevy + 10.0782s
6. Helio Castroneves Penske DW12-Chevy + 12.1105s
7. Alex Tagliani Herta DW12-Chevy + 12.3440s
8. Ed Carpenter Carpenter DW12-Chevy + 12.7396s
9. Graham Rahal Ganassi DW12-Honda + 13.3395s
10. Rubens Barrichello KV DW12-Chevy + 13.8178s
11. Scott Dixon Ganassi DW12-Honda + 14.3764s
12. Will Power Penske DW12-Chevy + 24.2642s
13. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt DW12-Honda + 1 lap
14. Ryan Briscoe Penske DW12-Chevy + 1 lap
15. Marco Andretti Andretti DW12-Chevy + 1 lap
16. Mike Conway Foyt DW12-Honda + 1 lap
17. Charlie Kimball Ganassi DW12-Honda + 1 lap
18. Katherine Legge Dragon DW12-Lotus + 5 laps
Dario Franchitti Ganassi DW12-Honda 193 laps
Takuma Sato Rahal DW12-Honda 107 laps
James Jakes Dale Coyne DW12-Honda 106 laps
JR Hildebrand Panther DW12-Chevy 105 laps
Justin Wilson Dale Coyne DW12-Honda 93 laps
Simona de Silvestro HVM DW12-Lotus 62 laps
Josef Newgarden Fisher DW12-Honda 48 laps