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Sep 02, 2013 - 09:59 AM
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Chaos in Baltimore, IndyCar Puts on a Wild Show
Posted by: BGerhart on Sep 02, 2013 - 09:58 AM
Feature Articles
Chaos in Baltimore, IndyCar Puts on a Wild Show



IndyCars on the streets of Baltimore was crazy, action-packed street racing!

IndyCars on the streets of Baltimore was crazy, action-packed street racing!
Credit: PaddockTalk / Lisa Hurley



By Brad Gerhart

If any race fans wanted to see some crazy, action-packed street racing, they sure got all that and more in IndyCar’s third annual return to the streets of Baltimore!

Parts flew, cars got spun out, tough encounters with the concrete walls, many pushed their luck going into braking zones and after countless cautions (six for 25 laps), a made dash to the finish ended with a two-time race winner of the current season.

“Was a wild day wasn’t it?”

Yes, that is what French driver Simon Pagenaud said during his post television race interview.

“I thought it was over at some points. I just kept pushing.”

Like in the second race of Detroit where he qualified inside the top-six (sixth) and won, Pagenaud again, for the second time only this season made the top-six (third), and yes of course the 2012 Rookie of the Year won his second IndyCar race event.

It was great racing. It was obviously a difficult day for I think everybody, lots of contact. Everybody is getting pretty excited as the season comes to an end, and the HP car was just really, really fast at the beginning of the race, and I really thought we had a good shot at it. I think the whole weekend was incredible,” Pagenaud said.

 

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The 29 year-old made a tire, brake locking pass to the inside of turn one on then race leader Marco Andretti for the lead. Andretti also locked up his tires as Pagenaud literally slid alongside him. With damage to his front wing, beat up tires Andretti fell back rather quickly and finished 10th, the last car on the lead lap. “I did everything I could,“ Pagenaud said. I honestly went for the win or nothing, and it paid out. I was pretty aggressive, but it worked out really well. So you know, it's one of those days where everything is with you and it works out.”

A rather unusual top-five in a very bizarre race with Pagenaud as the race winner, Josef Newgarden finished a career best second, Sebastien Bourdais earned a podium third, Justin Wilson came fourth and on her 25th birthday, Simona de Silvestro placed fifth.

Bourdais had a rough weekend leading up to the race, with a tough crash during qualifying that placed him towards the back of the field in the 22nd starting spot on the grid. “When you start nearly dead last and make the podium, it’s pretty sweet,” Bourdais said. He seemed rather dejected at not being able to get the first race win for Dragon Racing and felt that Pagenaud, his fellow Frenchman blocked him in the closing laps when the two got in contact with each other. “I’ll let people judge it,” Bourdais said. “There’s no friends on the race track. I learned that the hard way today.”

His younger counterpart, Pagenaud, of course seen things different and is in hunt for crucial championship points. “I want to always say, he's a good friend, he's very clean, and we both race and we both race for different teams and when it's time to go for the win, you go for the win,” said Pagenaud.

Wilson, who got spun out by Bourdais, felt that the Frenchman should have been penalized for avoidable contact and he himself was visibly upset during his post-race interviews. “I was in the middle of a fight, really,” Bourdais explained during his press conference. “I just didn't know what to do anymore. If you were not aggressive, you were going to get run into. If you were aggressive, you took the chance to hit someone. It was very, very dodgy.”

The Dale Coyne Racing driver made his way back up to the front and came fourth on a day he teammed up with his younger brother Stefan who made his IndyCar debut with DCR. “Absolute crazy race,” Wilson said, “was pretty crazy out there.” The seven-time open-wheel race winner stated that he lost in rear brakes in the opening laps of the 75 lapped event and by the end his “pedals were on the floor.” The extreme heat and the willingness of the drivers to test their equipment to the bitter end, played a huge toll on the racing action inside the 2.04 mile street circuit.

Even though he stopped early (twice) for contact and was also black flagged for hitting his own crew member while in the pits, Helio Castroneves hung onto his 15th top-10 (finished ninth) of the season (16th race). The Brazilian somehow increased his lead by 11 points to 49 over Scott Dixon who got tapped into the wall by Will Power on a restart.

Although it looked as though Power attempted to put a huge block on Dixon, the Penske driver explained the hard contact in another light. “No clue he was there,” Power said. “I was just looking at Bourdais back. Didn’t even think to look into my mirror. Just a bad thing to have happen, honestly. “ Power led in the early stages of the race, built up a seven second lead, before he pitted on lap 32, but the incident with Dixon put him back in 18th ending any slight championship hopes that still may have existed going into this weekend.

As for Castroneves, things went his way in the end as he somehow found a way to a strong finish. “Unbelievable,” Castroneves said. “Still dreaming really big,” as he looks for his very first IndyCar championship in his 12th full-time season of IndyCar, with only a Houston street course double-header weekend and a 500 miler at Fontana left on the 2013 IZOD IndyCar season.


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