INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – JUNE 15, 2011 – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, which had its strongest performance since joining the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2008 a week ago in Texas, will be looking to build on that momentum this weekend in the Milwaukee 225, June 17-19, on the Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
All three KVRT – Lotus drivers had reason to celebrate following the twin races in Texas. Tony Kanaan, #82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, finished 11th and fifth, Takuma Sato, #5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, finished fifth and 12th and E. J. Viso, #59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus scored two top-10 finishes placing seventh in race No. 1 and 10th in race No. 2. In recording the two top-10 showings, Viso picked up a total of 31 positions (12 in the first race and 19 in the second) which earned him the Firestone Tire-ific Award for each of the two races. In addition, both Kanaan and Viso led laps for the first time this season.
Kanaan started the first race in Texas a season high sixth. During the halftime drawing for grid position for the second race, fortune smiled on Kanaan as he drew the pole position. He led the first 38 laps before dropping back and finishing fifth for his fifth top-10 showing in seven races this year (counting Texas as two races) with three top-five placements and a podium performance (third at St. Petersburg). Kanaan, who made his 138th consecutive IndyCar start tying him with Scott Sharp for the series record (all-time record for consecutive starts is held by KVRT – Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser with 211), currently sits fifth in the championship race with 159 points and is just 10 points out of third. The 36-year-old Brazilian will be making his 12th appearance on the Milwaukee Mile. He made five starts in CART sanctioned events and six in the IndyCar Series. In 11 races he has qualified in the top-10 eight times with a best starting position of second in 2004. He has finished in the top-10 seven times including five top-five performances with two wins, 2006 and 2007.
“Always nice to be back at Milwaukee…It’s one of the most tradition-rich tracks in the series and it is a real driver’s track,” Kanaan said. “I have always performed well there, and I am excited to get back there with the GEICO KV Lotus crew to see what we can do.”
Sato, who will be making his first start on the Milwaukee Mile, is coming off a solid performance in Texas. The 34-year-old from Japan started an IZOD IndyCar career oval high fourth for the first race and finished a career oval high fifth, which also tied his career best IndyCar finish which he first achieved this year in St. Petersburg. His 12th place finish in the second race was equally impressive considering the luck of the draw put him at the back of field in 25th position for the start of the race. Sato, who will be contesting just his 25th IndyCar race, 12th on an oval, has opened the 2011 season strong. In addition to the fifth and 12th place finishes in Texas and the fifth place showing at St. Petersburg, he finished eighth in Brazil where he led 23 laps (his first in an IndyCar) before being forced to pit for a splash of fuel. Sato is currently 10th in the championship standings with 118 points.
“Milwaukee is definitely one of the most interesting oval tracks I have ever driven,” Sato said. “Although I ran only 50 laps at the test due to the weather conditions, it was enough to feel the sensation of this unique flat one mile oval. I heard many positive stories about how exciting the races here always are, so I am really looking forward to the weekend. I also think we should be in good shape as we can carry some good momentum from Texas’s strong race.”
Viso is coming off his best performance of the season. The 26-year-old Venezuelan, who has been the victim of some very bad luck to start the 2011 season, has now had three strong finishes in the last four races and has finished in the top-10 in consecutive races for the first time since 2008. He also led two laps, his first since last year when he led one lap in St. Petersburg. Although he remains 20th in the standings with 88 points, Viso is just 20 points out of 10th place. Viso will be making his third start in Milwaukee. He previously raced on the Milwaukee Mile in 2008 and 2009 recording a best qualifying position of 10th and a best finish of eighth both in his Milwaukee debut in 2008.
“I am very excited to be going back to the Milwaukee Mile,” Viso said. “It is pretty much flat and it makes the driver work a lot in the cockpit, but it is also a good track to overtake and a very fun oval. We had a good test there a couple of weeks ago, so I am looking forward to a good race and keeping the momentum we built at Texas going.”
The Milwaukee 225 will be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET