Just about every child loves going to a carnival or amusement park and getting a chance to jump in a bumper car and have at it. Well, most of the current IndyCar drivers’ inner child came out Sunday on the streets of Baltimore and made a professional open wheel race into a slam bam fest of bumper cars … except most of the bumpers were gone by the end of the race.
The IZOD IndyCar Series for the third year in-a-row invaded the city of Baltimore with a 75 lap 150 mile street course event around Camden Yards, home of the Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles. Andretti Sports Marketing promoted the Grand Prix of Baltimore and by most observations – except for the carnage on the track – the race as an event went off very well.
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, who had qualified third overall and was in contention all day for the win, came out victorious while a destruction derby occurred behind his #77 Schmidt Hamilton Honda. Josef Newgarden escaped major melees when it mattered and earned a well deserved runner-up spot after he too, had been running with the leaders for most of the day. The final podium position went to Sebastien Bourdais, who finished third, though he was in many of the bumper car-like skirmishes during the hot and humid day.
There were more than a fair share of memorable crashes and intrigue. Scott Dixon, who remains second in the points behind Helio Castroneves, appeared to have a fast car and was dicing around other cars during mid-race on a restart; but a nemesis of late, Will Power, dived in front of Dixon and sent him careening into the wall—ending Scott’s day. Dixon was hot afterwards toward any and everyone. Not unusual for the hot sticky day. Other tempers were short as well. Indy 500 winner TonyKanaan and Graham Rahal got into a scuffle on the track which in-turn Bobby Rahal, Graham’s father and car owner responded on Twitter saying,
“What a punk move by Kanaan. Use to have respect for him but no longer.”
Pagenaud and fellow countryman Bourdais bumped and banged near the end and then Simon was finally able to wrestle the lead from Marco Andretti as their tires touched often. Andretti, who is fourth in the standings, was leading towards the end of the race with his racecar looking typical for the afternoon as several pieces of his front wing were gone. With little downforce on the front of the car, Marco was bumped back to tenth.
Pagenaud jumped to third in points with his second win of the season, 70 points back of Castroneves who played it safe most of the day, while finishing ninth. Second overall, Dixon fell to 49 markers back in the standings.
Will race continue?
Tempers and bumper cars aside, most hope the event can continue but it won’t be on Labor Day weekend, at least for the next couple of years, as other major events in the same downtown area of Baltimore fall on that same weekend in 2014 and again in 2015. Whether this exciting if a bit crash-laden event can continue will probably have a lot to do with sponsorship and the right date. However, let’s hope this entertaining venue continues.
Certainly Pagenaud was happy stating afterwards,
“Awesome job for the HP team. They’ve been awesome this weekend and I guess it’s good for the championship.”
Yes it was.
Additional source: IndyCar