The hectic month of June for the IZOD IndyCar Series continues this week with a trip to the historic Milwaukee Mile. The Milwaukee IndyFest should be a strongly contested race, and as the Firestone 550 showed us last week, there are few guarantees in the Series this year. To help guide you through the chaos of Fantasy Racing this week, our panel returns with Milwaukee’s Locks, Drops, and Sleepers:
Zachary Houghton, IndyCarAdvocate.com
Lock: Tony Kanaan
With Scott Dixon and Will Power both losing engines (and garnering grid penalties) in the Iowa test this week, it’s a great time to go elsewhere for our lock. Tony Kanaan is one of the best at Milwaukee, with five Top 5 finishes in seven starts. He’s also won here, and had a good shot at doing the same last year before his crash. TK can both qualify and finish well here, which makes him a valuable addition to your roster this week.
Drop: Ed Carpenter
In seven starts here, Carp only has a single Top 10 finish, and just a pair of Top 10 starts to show for his efforts. It might seem counterintuitive for a driver best known for his success on ovals, but Milwaukee has not been kind to the Indianapolis native. Until that changes, the cautious fantasy owner will likely look elsewhere this week.
Sleeper: Graham Rahal
It might seem a little reactive to throw Rahal in here after his late heartbreak in Texas, but he was runner-up in Milwaukee last year, and did a nice job at the Mile in 2009 as well. Rahal should have another very strong car and is capable of winning; it’s just a matter of when.
Paul Dalbey, MoreFrontWing.com
Lock: Ryan Hunter-Reay
Andretti Autosport always seems to run well at Milwaukee, and RHR has a great history at the track, having led wire-to-wire in a Champ Car race many years ago. Ryan really enjoys and excels on the tracks where drivers must sling their car around, an Milwaukee, especially with the new aero package, should be just that type of track. If his Chevrolet engine goes the distance, I expect Ryan to be right up front challenging for the win.
Drop: Rubens Barrichello
Shirt ovals are a totally different beast and very few drivers adapt to them their first time out. Even with as much experience as Rubens has behind the wheel, nothing can prepare a driver for the type of racing a one-mile ovals demands like years of experience.
Sleeper : Oriol Servia
Since getting a hold of his new Chevrolet engine at Indianapolis, the Spaniard has come to life with a pair of solid top-5 finishes and had a strong run going at Texas before mechanical issues sidelined him. Expect the fine performances to continue this weekend on a track where Oriol found himself on the podium after last year's third-place finish.
Chris Estrada, IndyRacingRevolution.com
Lock: Tony Kanaan
TK has traditionally done well at the Milwaukee Mile with two wins and five top-5 finishes to his credit on the venerable oval. Kanaan was in the hunt for a third victory there last year before a late spin and crash at Turn 4 ended his hopes. The former series champion has found a strong pace as of recently, and after having his bid for a win last weekend at Texas end via blocking from Will Power, he’ll be very focused on collecting the trophy this Saturday.
Drop: Marco Andretti
Andretti had a quick car in Fort Worth, but an on-board fire forced him to make an extra stop that knocked him off the lead lap. His bad luck this year is proving stubborn and Milwaukee may not be the cure for what ails him based on history. Ever since netting a top-5 in his first start at the Mile in 2006, he’s been up-and-down in “Beertown” with results of 15th, 21st, 7th, and 13th. He’s one of the drivers that could really use a strong run right about now.
Sleeper: Graham Rahal
After his brush with the Turn 4 wall with three laps to go cost him the victory at Texas, Rahal was understandably frustrated with his mistake. But he was also optimistic about heading for Milwaukee, where he climbed 10 positions to claim second place last year behind winner Dario Franchitti. In addition, Rahal finished fourth there in 2009 with Newman-Haas, so the American definitely meshes well with the Mile and its driver-centric nature. Look for him to have a say in the outcome.