Honda Racing press release
Power Perfect in Inaugural Baltimore Run
It was another maximum effort that garnered maximum results for Team Penske’s Will Power, as the Australian dominated the inaugural Grand Prix of Baltimore, scoring a series-leading sixth IZOD IndyCar Series victory Sunday at the new temporary street circuit adjacent to Oriol Park at Camden Yards.
In tandem with the victory, qualifying on the pole and leading the most laps earned Power 53 championship points, the maximum available, as he closed to within five points of championship leader Dario Franchitti, who finished fourth for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Three races remain in the season.
Continuing a six-season tradition of equality and reliability, all 28 Honda-powered drivers completed 7,478 miles this weekend on the punishing streets of Baltimore without a single failure of the Honda Indy V-8 engine. It now has been more than two years since a Honda in-race engine failure, the last one taking place at Infineon Raceway in 2009.
At the start, Power fought off a determined challenge from the second-starting Graham Rahal, who briefly took the lead in the first corner. But after reclaiming the advantage in Turn 3, Power was in control for the rest of the 75-lap run, turning over the lead only during routine pit stops on the way to a 10-second victory over Oriol Servia.
Adjacent to the home of the Baltimore Orioles, the similarly-named Servia and his Newman Haas Racing team used an alternate pit strategy – stopping early to change to the faster “Red” alternate tires and then saving fuel to make the race distance – to gain track position early in the event. Once in the lead pack, Servia demonstrated great race pace that kept him ahead of a tight pack that included Tony Kanaan, Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Takuma Sato.
Using a strategy similar to Servia, Kanaan recovered from his airborne crash during the morning warm-up that forced him to start from a backup Honda-powered Dallara at the rear of the 28-car starting field. His third-place finish equals his best result of the season, scored at the St. Petersburg opener.
After back-to-back events on the opposite sides of the United States, the IZOD IndyCar Series now takes a week off before heading overseas for the second and final time of 2011 season, for the September 18 Japan Indy 300 at Honda’s own Twin Ring Motegi Circuit, north of Tokyo.
Will Power (#12 Team Penske Honda) started 1st, finished 1st, series-leading 6th win of 2011 and 15th career victory: “That feels like one of my best wins. I’ve never driven so hard in my life. I gave it absolutely every thing I had, from start to finish, and I’m exhausted. It was a ‘championship run’, and I believe one of the best races I have ever driven. And Baltimore is awesome. It was an unbelievable crowd and an atmosphere unlike anything I’ve experienced outside of Surfers Paradise [Australia].”
Tony Kanaan (#82 KV Racing Technology Honda) started 27th, finished 3rd in a backup car after destroying his primary car in a morning warmup crash: “What a fantastic effort from the entire team after our trouble this morning [when brake failure led to his crash]. We had a great race pace in our backup car, and to finish strong at [sponsor] Geico’s ‘home track’ was very, very important. This is an awesome track and a great event. We want to race where people come out to watch us and for a first event, this was a huge success.”
Oriol Servia (#2 Newman Haas Racing Honda) started 11th, finished 2nd, his second 2nd-place finish in the last three races: “[Will] Power was just too ‘powerful’ today; he had everyone covered. But this is a great result for us today. We’re fourth in [championship] points and fighting for the podium at every race, and there’s more to come. I crashed in qualifying [Saturday], but we never gave up. The car was very good and the strategy was even better. The pit strategy was perfect today and I knew if I didn’t make any mistakes, the podium was ours.”
Erik Berkman (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: “Congratulations to Will and the Penske organization. It was a great race, a dominating performance and very impressive to watch. Our inaugural event in Baltimore seems to have been a winner. It’s a wonderful city, the fans are great and we look forward to coming back. The championship has tightened further, and we’re looking forward to a dramatic finish to the season.”