Ryan Hunter-Reay came through with a massive victory at the Grand Prix of Baltimore that kept alive his hopes of becoming the first American champion of the IZOD IndyCar Series since 2006.
“The only thing I was doing today was winning or I was gonna end up in the wall,” said a joyous Hunter-Reay, who came from the 10th starting position to win his fourth race of the year. “…This is what racing is about.”
The caution-filled race came down to the wire and its turning point came on a restart with six laps remaining. Ryan Briscoe held the lead, but upon seeing the green, Hunter-Reay charged from third position and took Simon Pagenaud with him as they both blew by Briscoe.
“It’s green, it’s racing,” Hunter-Reay said about the fateful moment. “When the green flag flew, I went.”
Briscoe’s team owner Roger Penske called for a review of Hunter-Reay’s restart and got one, but INDYCAR decided to take no action against the Andretti Autosport driver. Meanwhile, on the same lap, a four-car incident at Turn 4 forced the yellow to come out again.
The final restart of the day came with two laps left, but Hunter-Reay was able to keep his rivals behind him and went on to take the checkered flag. As for the man he’s chasing in the championship, points leader Will Power saw his stellar drive into the Top 5 go awry a bit.
On that same restart, Rubens Barrichello got to the inside of him in Turn 3 and then appeared to push toward the outside wall — forcing Power to back off and lose several valuable positions before he gained one of them back to finish sixth.
“Barrichello just pushed me out to the wall,” said Power of the run-in with the former F1 star. “That’s hard racing in the pack.”
With that, Power’s lead over Hunter-Reay in the championship is now down to just 17 points as the series prepares for its final event of 2012: The MavTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway outside Los Angeles on Sept. 15.
Briscoe would eventually get back by Pagenaud for a runner-up effort, while Scott Dixon finished fourth and Barrichello rounded out the Top 5.
A full recap is coming later tonight…
Quotes were taken from the NBC Sports Network post-race interviews.