West Allis, WI (Sports Network) - Ryan Hunter-Reay is probably looking forward to this weekend's IndyCar Series race at The Milwaukee Mile more so than any other driver.
Hunter-Reay's summer push for the 2012 series championship began at Milwaukee. After winning at this 1-mile oval one year ago, he went on to score victories in the next two races -- Iowa and Toronto. He also won later in the season on the streets of Baltimore. Hunter-Reay edged Will Power for the title by just three points.
Last Saturday, Hunter-Reay gave his season a much-needed boost with a second- place finish at Texas. Right now, Helio Castroneves holds a 22-point lead over Marco Andretti, while Hunter-Reay trails by 27.
At this point of the season last year, Hunter-Reay was seventh in the standings and trailed then leader Power by 75 points. His win at Milwaukee moved him up to fourth in the rankings (-41).
Hunter-Reay has scored two victories in his seven races at Milwaukee. His first win here came in the 2004 Champ Car sanctioned race. He led all 250 laps in that event.
"There is no place like the Milwaukee Mile," Hunter-Reay said. "It is a hard place to get right, and when you do, it's so rewarding. It's been a place in my career that has meant a lot to me. I've had some pretty breakthrough performances in my career there, and I've also been on the other side of it where we just couldn't get it right and struggled. So I have a lot of respect for it for that reason.
"And I think if you ask any other Indy car driver out there, they'll say it's probably one of the most fun ovals you'll go to, and at the same time, one of the toughest to get right."
The Milwaukee Mile is the oldest operating motor speedway in the world. It has hosted auto racing events since 1903. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway began hosting races in 1911. In addition to IndyCar, Milwaukee has held open-wheel events in CART/Champ Car (1980-2003), USAC (1956-79) and AAA (1939-55).
IndyCar sanctioned races at Milwaukee began in 2004. This track was dropped from the series schedule in 2010 but rejoined the following year.
"We'll see a great race this weekend," Hunter-Reay said. "Milwaukee makes for some of the best racing we have in the series. I think you'll see this is one of the most action-packed races that we go to. Texas is a completely different configuration with the downforce and running that we do there, trying to pin that perfect down force. It makes the cars light, but you put on a good show."
Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan are those drivers who have scored multiple victories at Milwaukee. Franchitti won at this track in '04 and '11, and Kanaan took the checkered flag there in back-to-back years (2006-07).
Ryan Briscoe scored his maiden IndyCar win at Milwaukee in 2008. Briscoe was in his first season with Team Penske at the time. He is driving the No. 4 car for Panther Racing in this weekend's race.
Twenty-four teams are on the entry list for the Milwaukee IndyFest.
Series: IZOD IndyCar. Date: Saturday, June 15. Race: Milwaukee IndyFest. Site: The Milwaukee Mile. Track: 1-mile oval. Start Time: 4:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 250. Miles: 250. 2012 Winner: Ryan Hunter-Reay. Television: NBC Sports Network. Radio: IMS Radio Network/SIRIUS XM Satellite.
06/13 21:03:18 ET