What to watch for: IndyCar at Milwaukee (5 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra)

Leave a comment

MILWAUKEE – A historic venue is set to host a hectic battle as the Verizon IndyCar Series has its 12th race of the season, and fourth on an oval, in 2015 with today’s ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers.

The primarily one-day event (there was first practice on Saturday) will undoubtedly be one of the tougher tests of the season for crews. If you don’t roll off strong, it could be a long day.

Second practice and qualifying are in the books and here is what to watch for heading into today’s 250-lap race:

TRAFFIC, HEAT

These are the single biggest keys to success at the one-mile oval, even more than pit stops. How well your car manages traffic, whether it can go on another line besides the standard groove through Turns 1 and 2, then 3 and 4, and how you hold up when being lapped makes or breaks your race.

Will Power won as much with traffic domination as with outright pace here last year, while veterans Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Kanaan maligned some of the drivers who were less than agreeable when getting lapped.

The heat has also been a talking point today. How will cars handle the warmer than expected temperatures.

CAN ANDRETTI’S TEAM DELIVER A HOME RACE WIN?

The 2012 and 2013 races in Milwaukee were damn near perfect for Andretti Autosport. The sister Andretti Sports Marketing company promoted the race (as they do this year), and Ryan Hunter-Reay won both races.

This year is a crapshoot because Andretti’s team has not been great on setup, but been better in recent races. Carlos Munoz has won a race while Marco Andretti and Hunter-Reay haven’t; both of those drivers though have good histories at Milwaukee.

There is one wild card though in the team, and that’s the fourth driver in Justin Wilson, back for the first time since the Indianapolis 500. Here’s more there:

WILSON’S RETURN

“Bad Ass” is back. The tall, friendly giant that is Justin Wilson makes a most welcome return for the first of the five final races. He was 16th in first practice on Saturday but was poised to make improvements on Sunday.

Wilson, a veteran, is one of the smartest drivers in terms of finding the balance between having too much downforce and not enough for a race like Milwaukee. He may not win it but he adds an interesting variable to the race.

DOWNFORCE LEVELS

This race marks the first short oval race with the new road course/short oval aero kits. It will be interesting to see who experiments with different downforce levels, or whether all 24 drivers will run the same specifications. It’s a high downforce circuit.

NINTH DIFFERENT WINNER? OR POINTS BATTLES

Graham Rahal added his name to the winner’s list at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, joining Montoya, Power, Munoz, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Sebastien Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe.

So that’s your list of winners and as you can imagine anyone else not in that list – Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud and more among them – would make it nine in 12 this season.

Montoya leads Power by 46 points going into the race but we’ll see whether the Aussie can close that down.

MotoGP points leader Fabio Quartararo scores third win of season

MotoGP Fabio Quartararo
LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fabio Quartararo won the Catalan Grand Prix, recapturing the MotoGP points lead and his championship momentum Sunday with his third victory of the season.

Quartararo, who opened the season with his first two career victories in the premier series, took his first checkered flag in two months by winning at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya aboard his Petronas Yamaha SRT.

The French rider opened an eight-point lead (108-100) over Joan Mir, who finished second Sunday. Alex Rins was third.

After winning the previous race, Maverick Vinales slipped to 18 points behind Quartararo after a ninth-place finish.

Andrea Dovizioso was the points leader entering the race but crashed his Ducati in the second turn and placed last. Dovizioso fell three spots to fourth in the championship rankings, 24 points behind Fabio Quartararo in MotoGP.