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Hunter-Reay Victory Puts Him Back Into Championship Fight

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 2 2012

Ryan Hunter-Reay salutes the crowd after winning the IndyCar Series race in Baltimore on Sunday. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)

Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport made a late-race charge to get the IndyCar Series victory in the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Sunday.

The victory for Hunter-Reay, combined with a sixth-place finish by points leader Will Power of Team Penske, sends the series to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. for the final race of the season with the championship up in the air.

Driving the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car, Hunter-Reay started 10th and overtook leader Ryan Briscoe on the front straight of a Lap 70 restart.

A full-course caution on the same lap for a four-car pileup in Turn 4 gave Briscoe, who won a week earlier at Sonoma, another shot. But Hunter-Reay used the last of his 90 seconds of push to pass on the Lap 73 restart and went on to a 1.4391-second win over Briscoe, who started 14th in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinishes Team Penske car.

Hunter-Reay made up 20 points on Power in the 75-lap race on the 2.04-mile, 13-turn temporary street circuit. Power takes a 17-point lead into the finale Sept. 15 on the 2-mile Auto Club oval.

“We still have a shot,” a beaming Hunter-Reay said on pit lane after recording his fourth victory of the season. “We all want it bad enough; we can go get this thing. The team deserves it; it’s a matter of if we can put it together.”

Hunter-Reay has four Indy car oval victories, including two this year (Milwaukee and Iowa). Power’s lone oval victory came in 2011 on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.

“I knew it would be a day like this. It never comes easy,” said Power, who earned the three bonus points for earning the pole and leading the most laps (22). “We just have to do our best and fight like a dog till the end. We’ll come out swinging.”

Simon Pagenaud, who a week earlier clinched the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award, finished third for the two time in the past three races and Scott Dixon was fourth in his 200th Indy car start. Rubens Barrichello overtook Power on the final restart to claim fifth. Oriol Servia, who started 16th, finished seventh.

Earlier in the day, Tristan Vautier reclaimed the Firestone Indy Lights points lead with a commanding victory in the Grand Prix of Baltimore. The 2011 Star Mazda champion, driving the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports with Curb Agajanian car, takes an 11-point advantage over teammate Esteban Guerrieri into the Sept. 15 race at Auto Club Speedway.

Vautier swept the bonus points for earning the Sunoco Pole Award and leading the most laps. He won by 15.3783 seconds over Gustavo Yacaman, who won the 2011 race.

“This win feels great. From the start of the weekend the car was hooked up,” said Vautier, who turned 23 on Aug. 22. “We scored lots of points so that was very good for us with an oval at Fontana coming up next. We have to stay focused and arrive ready in California.”

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 2 2012
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