Series Baltimore race report

IndyCar Series press release

POWER CLOSES CHAMPIONSHIP RACE WITH WIN AT BALTIMORE

Race winner Will Power, Team Penske celebrates
Race winner Will Power, Team Penske celebrates

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

BALTIMORE (Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011) -- Will Power started from the pole in the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix, led the most laps and cruised to his IZOD IndyCar Series season record-tying sixth victory.

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

It was what transpired behind the Verizon Team Penske driver, who's chopped 50 points off series championship front-runner Dario Franchitti's lead over the past five races and now trails by a meager five points heading to the Twin Ring Motegi road course on Sept. 17, had the tens of thousands of fans screaming and shaking their heads.

Oriol Servia, who started 16th in the No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing car, was the runner-up (his best on a road/street course in the IZOD IndyCar Series). Tony Kanaan, who had quite an adventure even before taking the green flag for the 75-lap race, finished third in the No. 82 GEICO KV Racing Technology-Lotus hybrid car.

Both stretched their 22 gallons of ethanol 32 laps on the 2.04-mile, 12-turn circuit.

Kanaan was involved in a scary morning warm-up incident with Helio Castroneves. Both had to start from the rear of the 28-car field because they switched to backup cars -- in the case of Kanaan, switching to teammate E.J. Viso's oval car -- after qualifications.

Franchitti finished fourth (his 12th top five in the 15 races) and Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon was fifth. Danica Patrick advanced from the 25th starting position to grab sixth place in the No. 7 Team GoDaddy car for Andretti Autosport, and Alex Tagliani was seventh in the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports after starting 21st.

*** BALTIMORE GRAND PRIX POST RACE QUICK QUOTES:

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America): "I didn't want to get too bunched up, so I was playing it safe. Then I could re-pass Ryan going into Turn one and hold my position, which was alright, and then it was going to be a long day. We started to save fuel, car was good and had a good balance, and then the GCU stopped functioning because there was no power going to it. A wire got cut somewhere or burned off, it was some sort of electrical error and that took us out of the race. No gearbox anymore."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team All Natural Snapple): "It's a disappointing end for the No.26 car today. The oil line was slowly letting go and then finally let go - (the engine) was in and out of emergency mode. It's unfortunate. We didn't have a great car today, but the Snapple guys did a great job and dad and the engineers did a great job. If we had stayed out during this yellow we could have been leading the race. But still it comes down to pace and we have some work to do in the off season. I'm up for the task."

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 Schekter 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.

Chief Executive Officer of IndyCar Randy Bernard and Will Power, Team Penske
Chief Executive Officer of IndyCar Randy Bernard and Will Power, Team Penske

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

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.

BALTIMORE MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS BLAKE: "We had an opportunity with INDYCAR's help, to shine on an international stage. So many people who when we had traffic problems or parking problems or any delay, the naysayers had their day until the race started. And I want to thank everyone involved who helped quiet the naysayers. It was a fantastic event that brought in people from all over the country and internationally to enjoy this race. It was an exciting race, it was a challenging course, and I invite you all back for next year."

RANDY BERNARD, INDYCAR CEO (ABOUT THE INAUGURAL BALTIMORE GRAND PRIX): " I'd like to thank the entire city of Baltimore for their patience as we staged our event on the downtown streets and for the hospitality they showed to our fans and the entire racing community. They really showcased what makes Baltimore such a great city to an international audience. I'd like to thank the Mayor for her vision, Councilman Cole for his determination and Baltimore Racing Development for putting on such a great event. And a special thanks to the police department, fire department, EMTs and the volunteers. Todays' race had something for everyone and featured all the elements that make up a marquee event."

***

The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Indy Japan: The Final on Sept. 18 at Twin Ring Motegi. The race will be televised live at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 17 by VERSUS and the IMS Radio Network. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Kentucky 100 on Oct. 2 at Kentucky Speedway. It will be televised live by VERSUS.

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