Will Power dominates on streets of Baltimore
Sometimes the race really does go to the swift, and the battle to the strong, but at least this time it was an interesting day getting to those results.
The restart on lap 36 was a moment that will probably serve on blooper videos for years to come. Ryan Hunter-Reay was punted by Ryan Briscoe in the hairpin, blocking most of the track. In the aftermath, 12 cars were stacked up, but Tony Kanaan went from the back of the field to 8th by threading through the stopped cars.
On the restart, Will Power, Graham Rahal, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe (who would serve a drive-thru for causing the mess after the restart) and EJ Viso were at the top of the charts, with Oriol Servia was the first car who had pitted. Certainly the were “Sitting ducks” or maybe even the proverbial deceased ducks. Chip Ganassi commented that Dario, at this point, was just points racing with Will Power, figuring that chances of a win were gone.
And so the race progressed, with the leaders all peeling off, one at the time to get their pit time. Graham Rahal pitted on lap 57, dropping for 2nd to 14th. The next lap, Will Power pitted, but the Penske crew won the race by getting Will out ahead of Oriol Servia, who was the forced to conserve fuel to make it to the end of the race. As soon as Simona de Silvestro relinquished the lead! by pitting on lap 60, Power checked out on the field, building a 10+ second lead by the end of the race.
However, the story had an interesting end, as teammates EJ Viso and Takuma Sato both spun in the last 2 laps. Before that, Takuma was 20 places higher than he started, and EJ had spend most of the day in the top 10. However, Tony Kanaan – who started dead last in a car that was hastily thrown together, which was EJ’s oval car, one that Tony actually helped build in the hours before the race, finished third, some 24 spots ahead of where he started. All of this was on a course where drivers later commented that there was a lack of good passing places.
And the points race is now even tighter, with Dario’s lead cut to 5 points. Tickets for Vegas (hopefully) will be selling fast now...
Obligatory Danica comments – Danica was steady, kept the car intact, and even though she was one of the 12 cars that were stopped on the track in the big crash, finished 7th, highest of the Andretti Autosports team, one spot ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Will Power has 15 wins, 6 of them this season. Except for an ill-timed caution at Mid-Ohio, and possible a pit mistake at Iowa, he’d have 8. Clearly he is the best at road and street courses in IndyCar. Maybe now he can live down the New Hampshire two-finger moment... or, maybe not. Either ways, the guy is good.
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, winner Baltimore Grand Prix): "I gave it absolutely everything I had. That was an unbelievable result. One of my best races ever. That's exactly what we needed. We're closing in (on Dario Franchitti)."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing, finished second): "The Orioles' wings were with Oriol today. Nobody has doubts. There's a reason why Newman/Haas Racing has over 100 victories, they just had a tough season last year. Here we are again. We're fourth in points and fighting for the podium every race, and there's more to come."
TONY KANAAN (No. 83 GEICO-KV Racing Technology-Lotus): I can't thank the Geico KV Racing team enough. We made a mistake this morning, but fixed it and gave me all the support. The guys from Geico, it's their hometown race so it's nice to have a podium for them. A great comeback. There's always going to be drama, and then the happiness at the end.
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): We were a third place car. Graham (Rahal) looked very strong, and Will (Power), it was the same thing with him, the other cars were just a little bit quicker. It looked like we had everyone else covered, but there was a miscue on strategy, they called me into the pits when we had about 10 car lengths past it, so that was unfortunate. And from then on, I came out and Scott (Dixon) and I almost got together, I thought he was going through and he thought I was taking the corner. We almost crashed being too nice to each other, really. But it was a tough day for the Kellogg's car. I have to say, we had a great crowd here in Baltimore, very challenging track. If only the person who designed it had put a few more places to pass in it, people would have really gotten their money's worth, so hopefully we can come back next year and put on a great show for the crowd. (About being concerned that Will is closing in on him in the championship points): What's the point in getting concerned? It doesn't make you any quicker.
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): It was just a frustrating day really. We went of sequence pretty early around 10 or 12 really and we were hoping for a yellow. We went about the whole first 10 or so without a caution. We dropped back to about ninth or 10th after we had made our way up to about seventh. It was an average day, we got up there by Helio (Castroneves), I was trying to race TK (Tony Kanaan) and then Dario (Franchitti) slipped in between us coming out of the pits. We had such a long yellow trying to sort the lap cars out of the way, and it was just confusion.
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Team Buffalo Wild Wings): It was obviously a very disappointing day, not with just one mechanical failure but two. It's very, very disappointing. I'm very sorry for the Buffalo Wild Wings guys that we couldn't put on a good show for them. We need to do our homework, and then we'll regroup for Japan.
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team Go Daddy): What a great way to finish a challenging weekend. We took a chance on the fuel strategy and it worked in our favor. We ran out of fuel coming into the pits after the checkered which is fine by me. My guys had great pit stops which is key. I'm glad we had a solid finish for the GoDaddy.com car which we will use as momentum going into the road course in Japan.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): He (Ryan Briscoe) just dumped me. I'm just going to pick up and move on to the next race. We still salvaged 8th. It's just that some other guy's running around saving fuel the whole time and finishes 2nd, which is a shame. He [Briscoe] bent our suspension too which should have put us out of the race. The DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop guys did a great job to fix our suspension and we came out to finish eighth."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): The race went better than everyone thought it would- we did have a big one and I got caught up in it running 9th. But the ABC Supply team did a great job replacing the broken wing and gambling on fuel. A top 10 in this series is a good result but to have it after all we overcame is even better.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): Unfortunately it was not the best day at the office. We got a reasonable start and had an okay strategy going. We got by some guys in the pit stops and ran a clean first stint. It was amazing that we didn't have yellows right off the bat. I think everybody was happy about that. We picked off a couple of guys, got by Oriol and stayed out of trouble. I think we were running 11th when the caution came out for Scheckter and on the restart I didn't get a particularly good run out of Turn 1 and was more looking at my mirrors about Jakes. I was not even trying to attack, I wasn't trying to get involved and I guess there was a mess with the two Ryan's up in front of us and it just caused a log jam. That corner is so tight that once you are in it there is really nowhere to go. Luckily we kept the engine running but unfortunately Jakes got in the back of us, after we got in the back of Pantano, and broke the suspension. We were in the pits for a number of laps getting repairs done. We got back out for some laps at the end to just pick up a few places. It's a tough break if you look at the way the race played out for Oriol. We were ahead of Oriol at that point and we might have had a podium in the cards. I'm happy for him. It was still a good performance. We missed something in qualifying but as a team we rebounded pretty well and could have had two good finishes instead of just one. Congrats to him and we will take our pace and momentum and know that we can still do a good job and move on to Motegi. The promoters put on a great event. I'm already looking forward to coming back.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Bogata's Es Mundial/Conquest Racing): Overall it was a good weekend. The Conquest crew did a great job with the strategy and we were able to pick up quite a few spots on the track. The course proved to be a challenge and I am very happy to have placed the No. 34 Conquest Racing/Bogota/Es Mundial car in the top 15. I am really looking forward to racing here next year and will use this weekend as a learning experience for the future. I am sure that we have to potential to do great things here.
MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 17 Snowball Express/AFS/Sam Schmidt Mtrspts): It was a day of mixed emotions for me. I started off the day in 18th. Our plan initially was to pit extremely early, get out of the rat race and put on the red tires, get some good laps in and catch a yellow. Unfortunately, that yellow flag took a long time to come. Unfortunately, I got stuck behind Ed Carpenter and that was the most frustrating thing in my life. Both Tag and I were behind him. He was going a lot slower, but it was very, very hard for us to pass him. Unfortunately, his car was very good in the few good places you can pass. But he was terrible the rest of the track. That cost us about 15 seconds. But then, we had a stroke of luck. There was a bit of a melee down in Turn three. Just by the grace of god, I saw a hole and with through it. I don't know how. After a long season, I guess some guys are starting to grow some brains out there. It was out of character for some of the drivers out there. I was impressed when we went green so long. It was a pretty clean race. It made it pretty tough out there. After this weekend, I want to say a huge thank you to the AFS/Sam Schmidt No. 17 crew and also the No. 77 team. They provided me a fantastic environment to make my debut in the IZOD IndyCar Series. They're an amazing group. I would love to continue with them. Unfortunately, this journey comes to an end this weekend.
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske): It ended up being a really disappointing day for us in the Guidepoint Systems car. After the contact with Hunter-Reay, we were penalized for avoidable contact and after that we were pretty much done. It was really unfortunate for us as we had a car that was definitely capable of being in the hunt for another top-three finish. Good job to Will and the Verizon guys. They did what they needed to for the championship.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske): It was a very difficult day for the Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra car. We got a bad break in the morning warm-up with the accident, which resulted in us having to start from the back. Once the race started we were doing alright - we pitted early and were making track position, but we got caught in someone else's wreck and ended up going a lap down. From there we just had to fight for the best finish we could. Now it's on to Japan.
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): It was a good race for our team. We did a good job, recovering from the incident and changing a nose. The team just did a really good job in the pit stops. We got slowed down early on by a couple of slower cars. That probably cost us the chance to be in the top five. I think the change in the set-up before the race and then the nose change in the race shows the determination of the team. It shows you can never give up in racing and when we have a good car, we can run up front.
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): The Service Central team did a fantastic job all day. Unfortunately, it didn't work out today. We ran a great race and the No. 38 Service Central car was really fast all weekend, it just didn't go our way. Up until those final 15 laps, we were one of the cars to beat and to finish 10th is just frustrating.
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog Flex Pen): It's a disappointing result for what was a pretty good day. The No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen car was quick; we were definitely quick enough to be in the top 10. I under-performed a little bit during qualifying yesterday, but the Novo Nordisk team gave me a great race car. If it wasn't for the contact with (Tony) Kanaan at the end, I think we had a good shot to finish in the top 10.
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA-KV Racing Technology-Lotus):It was a really heartbreaking race. It looked pretty clear that we could have finished 5th in the worst case scenario if the race had continued the way it was going, but a "lottery" came up at the end where we stuck with the leaders strategy and it worked out only for (Will) Power. We had a pretty good car that gave me the speed necessary to stay with the lead pack. It's one of those races where things were going great and then we lost it all. We have been strong all weekend and now I'm looking forward to Japan. It's going to be a new road course for all of us and I think we are going to do great there. I need to give a lot of credit to my crew for giving me a very solid car in the last few races.
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology-Lotus): It was a tough race. During the first stint I moved up. Midway through the second stint there was a crash involving multiple cars in the hairpin after a restart and I had unavoidable contact which damaged the front wing. I stayed out and when they reorganized the field I was in ninth place. We decided to put in enough fuel to make it to the end of the race and at the same time we fixed the wing, which put me in the back of the grid. From there I raced really hard and it was quite exciting overtaking cars in the hairpin. Also the strategy worked well. At the end I was running in sixth place when unfortunately, I brushed the wall and damaged the steering, so in the end I could not turn the car through the hairpin. It was really a shame.
Winners average speed: 75.046
Time of Race: 02:02:19.4998
Margin of victory: 10.2096 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 16 laps
Lead changes: 7 among five drivers
Lap Leaders: Power 1 - 20, Franchitti 21, Briscoe 22, Hunter-Reay 23, Power 24 - 58
Franchitti 59, de Silvestro 60, Power 61 - 75
Point Standings: Franchitti 507, Power 502, Dixon 430, Servia 367, Kanaan 340, Briscoe 328, Hunter-Reay 305, Andretti 292, Castroneves 290, Rahal 284.
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