Power Surges In Baltimore, Points

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 4 2011

Will Power emerged as the winner in Sunday's Baltimore Grand Prix. (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

By Venkat G. Gopalakrishnan
Special to RacinToday.com

BALTIMORE , Md.– The inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix may have gone off script with a largely uneventful race, but it stayed true to form with Will Power getting a victory.

Polesitter Power finished ahead of second-place Oriol Servia of Newman/Haas Racing by 10.209 seconds to get the victory, which was Power’s sixth of the season – an IndyCar record – and his second in a row.

Third was KV Racing’s Tony Kanaan.

Crucially, Power narrowed the gap in the points standings to five points over leader Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

Power drove a nearly flawless race over the tight and bumpy streets of downtown Baltimore, relinquishing the lead only during the pit stops and for a brief moment at the start.

Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing’s Graham Rahal, who started second, beat out the Australian for the lead going into Turn 1 on the opening lap but Power quickly retook the lead at tight Turn 3 on the same lap.

“That was the toughest race I’ve done all year,” Power said. “I’m just exhausted, but that was a championship run.”

Franchitti finished fourth, the same as where he qualified, while his teammate, Scott Dixon, rounded out the top five.

During the late stages of the race, Franchitti couldn’t find a passing opportunity as he was involved in a tight battle with Kanaan for third, who was conserving fuel.

Events of Sunday don’t bode well for Franchitti. The Scot, who has seen his lead wiped from 55 points to five points in the last five races, hasn’t won in the remaining three tracks – Motegi, Kentucky, and Las Vegas – on the schedule.

“We were a third place car,”  Franchitti said. “Graham (Rahal) looked very strong, and Will (Power), it was the same thing with him.”

Kanaan, who had a horrific crash during practice and had to start at the back of the field, was aided by an out-of-sync pit strategy that helped him to finish on the last step of the podium.

Servia, too, was on a fuel mileage strategy as both he and Kanaan made their last pit stop under caution on lap 43.

“We made a mistake this morning, but fixed it and (the team) gave me all the support,” Kannan said, alluding to his practice crash. “There’s always going to be drama, and then the happiness at the end.”

During the morning practice, Kanaan emerged unscathed from the scary crash, which also involved Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves.

Coming up the front straightaway, Kanaan lost his brakes and barreled into a slowing Castroneves’ right-side entering the first turn. The impact launched Kanaan’s car in the air and he went into the protective tire barriers.

Both drivers were unhurt but started in their back-up cars. In Kanaan’s case, he had to use teammate E.J. Viso’s machine as his back-up car was in the process of being shipped to Japan, the site of the next race.

Kanaan termed Castroneves his ‘life-saver.’

After Kanaan, Andretti Autosport’s Danica Patrick was the biggest mover of the day. Starting from the 25th spot, Patrick too gambled on a conservative fuel strategy and finished sixth.

Originally scored seventh behind Tagliani, Patrick moved up a spot after officials penalized Tagliani for missing the final chicane.

While the drivers took it easy at scary Turn 1, it was Turn 3 that proved to be eventful.

It all started with Tomas Scheckter’s car stalling on the track on lap 32 bringing out the first caution of the race.

In the ensuing restart on lap 37, Ryan Briscoe lunged to the inside of Ryan Hunter-Reay and hit his right rear tire, spinning him around at 180-degree Turn 3. The impact left Hunter-Reay blocking the exit of the turn, causing 11 cars to bunch up.

Dixon, who was on an off-sequence pit strategy, clipped Hunter-Reay’s front wing and that punctured his tire. Briscoe was penalized for avoidable contact and was ordered to the back. He would end up finishing 14th while Dixon finished fifth.

Rahal was the biggest loser after the second round of pit stops. The American driver, who was running second behind Power, pitted on lap 56. A delay in getting out of his pit stall left him rejoining in the 14th spot.  He wound up finishing 10th.

Results Sunday of the Baltimore Grand Prix IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.04 mile Streets of Baltimore, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1.  (1) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

2.  (14) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

3.  (27) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

4.  (4) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

5.  (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

6.  (23) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

7.  (19) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

8.  (6) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

9.  (12) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

10.  (2) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

11.  (18) Martin Plowman, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

12.  (10) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

13.  (24) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

14.  (3) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

15.  (8) EJ Viso, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

16.  (20) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 75, Running

17.  (28) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 74, Running

18.  (26) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 73, Running

19.  (17) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Honda, 73, Contact

20.  (25) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 73, Running

21.  (16) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 73, Running

22.  (22) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 71, Running

23.  (7) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 64, Mechanical

24.  (15) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 54, Handling

25.  (21) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 40, Mechanical

26.  (13) Giorgio Pantano, Dallara-Honda, 39, Contact

27.  (11) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 37, Contact

28.  (5) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Honda, 9, Electrical

Race Statistics

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.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 4 2011
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