GLAD TO SEE FANS AT MILE; PIT MISTAKE COSTLY
By: Scott Dixon
It was great to be back at The Milwaukee Mile again, even if our performance didn’t match our enthusiasm.
When you race at the Mile, you have to put yourself in a position to be close at the end. Even though we were fast, we weren’t able to put ourselves in position at the end, so we finished seventh. It’s another in a series of frustrating setbacks that seem to have become a trend for the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing team.
We just seem to find ways to take ourselves out of contention, and it typically happens to us during the first half of the season. For some reason we eliminate the mistakes later in the year and start winning races.
Still, not all was bad. We’re still just 76 points behind the co-leaders, Will Power and my teammate, Dario Franchitti. We have 10 races left, so there’s time to contend for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. We just can’t continue to encounter trouble like we did Sunday and expect to get there.
As you saw, we were fast through most of the race, but we got caught up in some commotion on pit lane and lost a lot of positions. It was terribly disappointing because the car was so fast. We should have been able to get to the front, but short-track racing is all about track position. Once you lose it, it’s tough to get it back.
So now it’s off to Iowa Speedway for Saturday night’s Iowa Corn Indy 250. Iowa is another short oval – 7/8ths of a mile – but it’s totally different from Milwaukee. Iowa is banked and crazy fast for a short track, but as the pavement has aged since its opening a few years ago, it has lost grip. Now it’s trickier; you can’t just go flat all the way around.
It’s a night race this year, which should be very cool. If you’re looking for a fun day trip, Iowa Speedway is within driving distance of Milwaukee. It’s a great atmosphere. The fans are really into it, and its a different yet similar type of racing than you saw at the Mile.
Part of the problem most of us had Sunday was the narrow racing groove. When they first added asphalt to the low line a few years ago, it added tremendous grip in the turns. But now that it’s a bit older, it’s become slick. We all ended up racing in the area between the asphalt patch and the gray – an area about 8 to 10 feet wide.
But it did make for some interesting racing. Milwaukee is always about being on the edge, and when you’re going around a mile oval at 170 mph, there isn’t much room for error. If you push it too hard, you spin. But you can’t afford to not push hard.
All in all, it was an unbelievable challenge. It’s just so demanding of the driver, equipment and team to do that for 225 laps without making a mistake somewhere. We had our mistake in the traffic of the pits. A break or two here or there, and we would have been racing among the leaders.
Once you get back in the pack, you see all the crazy things going on. People making wild passes, dive-bombing each other, blocking. It’s quite the scene back in the mix. You have to hang on for all it’s worth, and sometimes it’s all you can do just to hold your position. Never mind advancing, you’re just hanging on.
But I was happy to see the fans at Milwaukee again. It’s been a struggle for the Mile to draw fans, especially after they didn’t have a race last year, but I’m hoping things will turn around and we’ll continue to race there. It’s one of my favorite tracks, and it’s always a thrill to compete there.
Thanks to all the readers who followed me through the series of blogs. Sorry we couldn’t give you the result we wanted, but we’re not giving up. We’ll keep moving forward from here.