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Andretti hopes to draw more IndyCar fans to Mile

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 16, 2014 at 3:49 pm •  Published: August 16, 2014

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) — The IndyCar stop at the Milwaukee Mile has a new date in a series with a tight driver leaderboard.

Even the weather is ideal for the race Sunday, which starts a three-week sprint to the series finish with Will Power holding just a four-point lead in the standings.

Now if the 250-mile race could attract a few more fans, promoter and team owner Michael Andretti would feel more secure about the future of a race at the 111-year-old track.

"It's the oldest race track in the world. It's second only to (Indianapolis) in terms of tradition, and so I feel it should be part of the IndyCar series," Andretti said. "For one it's a great track, and two, its history. You know, I hope it stays on the schedule a long time."

The track, which once had a date on the weekend after the Indianapolis 500, wasn't on the schedule in 2010 because of financial difficulties. It nearly fell off the schedule again in 2012 before Andretti's group took over at the last minute.

Andretti won five times here as a driver. He's had success as an owner in Milwaukee, too, with Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay having won the race the previous two years. Hunter-Reay was the first to go back-to-back at the Mile since Tony Kanaan in 2006 and 2007, when Kanaan was driving for Andretti.

"We benefit from the fact that there is no name so synonymous with the Verizon IndyCar series than 'Andretti,'" series spokesman Mike Kitchel said. "They're invested in our series. They know our history, and they've proven they know how to put on good events."

Promoters are trying to foster more of a festival-like feel that might be more familiar to street course events. In a way, it's keeping with the Milwaukee area's summer tradition of fairs and ethnic festivals.

Entering Sunday's race, Hunter-Reay has 484 points, third behind Penske drivers Power and Helio Castroneves (544).

Power, who has four top-10 finishes at ovals this year, likes how there is more room to pass at the Mile. He has called it his favorite oval on the circuit.

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