Tagliani Runs Seventh for Honda at Milwaukee
A race that started well for several Honda-powered IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and teams on Saturday at The Milwaukee Mile ended with Alex Tagliani finishing seventh and Graham Rahal ninth on a day that promised much more.
Pole-qualifier and Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti dominated the opening segment of today’s 225-lap contest, leading until the first round of pit stops on Lap 63. But an ill-timed caution flag took away Franchitti’s advantage, leaving him running fourth, with a car that did not work as well in traffic as when he had been at the front of the field. On Lap 192, Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe made side-to-side contact, and one lap later a rear suspension failure sent him crashing into the Turn 4 wall. Franchitti was uninjured, but out of the race as a result of the crash.
Starting 21st after taking a 10-position grid penalty for an unapproved engine change, Detroit race winner Scott Dixon battled his way through the field to fourth place at mid-race, but was given a “drive-through” [pit lane] penalty by race officials when he was judged to have jumped a Lap 121 restart. The penalty dropped Dixon to 16th, the last car on the lead lap, and he was merely able to recover to 11th by the finish.
After a disappointing qualifying run on Friday that left him 13th on the starting grid, Tagliani found his Honda Dallara to be working much better in today’s race, and he quickly moved into the top 10 in the opening laps. Tagliani continued to advance during the middle stages of the contest, reaching third place on Lap 100. But the Canadian driver was caught out by lapped traffic on the final two restarts, dropping him to a seventh-place result.
Rahal, meanwhile, fought handling problems early in the race, but made changes to his car and gradually improved his position throughout the second half, to finish ninth. Simon Pagenaud had an encouraging short-oval debut, starting seventh, but fell a lap down to the leaders in the closing segment and finished 13th. Mechanical issues ended the race early for Texas race winner Justin Wilson and rookie Josef Newgarden, while Takuma Sato and James Jakes were caught up in a Lap 107 crash that ended the day
for both drivers.