Ryan Hunter-Reay took win and moved to second in the points with a controlled performance in the IndyCar race at the Milwaukee Mile.
Hunter-Reay, whose 2012 championship campaign was kick-started by his victory in last year’s Milwaukee race, was a threat right from the start, although the race was given a twist when several cars took advantage of an early caution to pit under yellows and go off-sequence
Those included Takuma Sato and Helio Castroneves, and for Sato, the strategy worked well enough for the Japanese driver to lead almost half of the race.
A big moment late in his penultimate stint prompted Sato to pit under greens, and when the rest of the lead group were able to pit under caution and retain the lead lap a couple of laps later, he was knocked out of contention.
Castroneves, on the other hand, was able to take advantage of the final yellow to get back onto sequence with Hunter-Reay, although he never looked fast enough in the final stint to pose a threat to the Andretti car.
In the final laps his main concern was keeping Penske team-mate Will Power behind him, and the pair had a fright late on when a speculative lunge from Power almost ended in contact.
They escaped unscathed, and Castroneves’ pleasure at climbing from the rear of the field to second was given a further boost by the fact that Marco Andretti, who came into the weekend placed second in the championship, lost a tonne of time in the pits after suffering an electrical problem and finished 74 laps down.
Power’s third place represented the Australian’s first podium finish of the season, with EJ Viso and James Hinchcliffe rounding out the top five.
First of the Honda-powered drivers was Scott Dixon, whose sixth place, coupled with an eighth for Dario Franchitti, represented a decent return for the Ganassi team on a day where both started from the rear of the field and were forced to rely on strategy rather than pace to make any headway.