Bits and pieces on the Milwaukee IndyFest

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Helio, Dario are the hard chargers: Three-time Indianapolis 500 winners Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti certainly earned their paychecks yesterday at Milwaukee, as each jumped 15 positions from where they started at the drop of the green. Castroneves came from 17th to a runner-up finish, while Dario Franchitti moved from 23rd to eighth at the finish.

Franchitti, a two-time winner on the Mile, overcame an engine penalty that had dropped him 10 spots on the grid from where he qualified on Friday. However, he complained of how tough it was to cut through traffic and wondered if INDYCAR officials needed to step in and possibly make some changes.

“The cars are so close, so the series might be a victim of their own success right now,” said Franchitti. “We need to start allowing something to differentiate when guys get it right and wrong.”

– Chevy dominates: At a flat one mile in length, Milwaukee isn’t necessarily a power track, instead putting the emphasis on handling and how you deal with lapped traffic. Nevertheless, Chevrolet can still crow a bit after securing its second consecutive sweep of the Top 5 positions with winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, E.J. Viso and James Hinchcliffe. The Bowtie Brigade also locked out the Top 5 one weekend ago at Texas Motor Speedway.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon led the Honda camp with a sixth-place showing despite having to deal with understeer issues.

– Off to Le Mans for Briscoe: The Milwaukee IndyFest started a very busy week for Ryan Briscoe, who made his third start of the season in the No. 4 Panther Racing Chevrolet. Briscoe, who finished 15th on Saturday, is a full-time American Le Mans Series driver for Level 5 Motorsports, and he’s competing with them in next weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

He took part in the official test day last weekend at Circuit de la Sarthe and then arrived in Milwaukee for his Panther duties on Thursday. Shortly after racing on Saturday, he was heading off back to France to continue preparing for his rookie run in the famous sports car race.

“The travel hasn’t been that bad,” Briscoe told IndyCar.com. “It’s not that big a time difference and the flight is about the same as going out to the West Coast…For me, this is a lot better than sitting home and watching, so I’m very appreciative of the opportunity I’ve got at Panther.”

F1 Paddock Pass: United States Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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As Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his fourth Formula 1 World Championship Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, plenty of other topics of discussion emerged in the wake of Round 17 of the season from Austin.

Hamilton’s win came as his Mercedes AMG Petronas team claimed its fourth consecutive Constructor’s Championship, Scuderia Ferrari came up short once again despite a valiant effort in second and third, and Max Verstappen’s penalty after the race was the major talking point.

Elsewhere Valtteri Bottas struggled again, the Sahara Force India twins continued to pick up points, Carlos Sainz Jr. made a major positive impact in his first start with Renault, Brendon Hartley impressed on debut at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean and Haas F1 Team endured a tough weekend on Haas’ home soil.

Check out all the recap from the latest USGP in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, below.