Sunday, 1 September 2013

Simon Pagenaud wins a chaotic Grand Prix of Baltimore

Simon Pagenaud won a dramatic race of attrition on the streets of Baltimore, holding off Josef Newgarden to claim his second career win.

Despite Scott Dixon starting on pole, Will Power took the lead on the first lap at turn 4 as the rest of the field bunched together, resulting Ryan Hunter-Reay slowing and dropping back and Helio Castroneves sustaining front wing damage

The first caution of the race came on lap 13 as Ed carpenter locked his brakes at the penultimate turn and went straight on into the tyre wall.

The race got under way once more on lap 20. Power held onto the lead but Simon Pagenaud made the most of the restart to pass Dixon for second.

After coming out of the pits on lap 34, Power came under immense pressure from Dixon but stayed in front. Sebastien Bourdais took the lead as the the field cycled through pitstops.

Stefan Wilson brought out another caution on lap 41 after he made contact with the barriers at turn 7. Two laps later, Ryan Hunter-Reay's bad day got worse as he stopped on track.

Chaos ensued as a pileup at turn one followed the restart on lap 48 with a spinning Scott Dixon the catalyst. Another restart on lap 53 started with Will Power wiping out Scott Dixon before another pileup occured at turn one. Another pileup occurred on lap 57.

Whilst Will Power pitted and also served a penalty for the incident on lap 53, Dixon's car was stranded out of track and although the Ganassi team insisted they could get the car back out to finish the race, IndyCar refused to send the car back to the pitlane, much to Dixon's disappointment.

The race finally restarted for real on lap 60, after an aborted start the lap before, with Marco Andretti in front. Front wing damage didn't appear to hinder the third generation driver as he built up a lead of over a second in the first lap since the restart.

The drama wasn't over though as another caution came out with 13 laps to go after an incident at turn 3.

The final stint of the race got under way with 9 laps to go. Andretti continued to lead but Simon Pagenaud raced up the inside going into turn one but the Frenchman couldn't complete the move.

Two laps later Pagenaud did taker the lead though with Bourdais moving up to second. A move for the lead by Bordais didn't work and Andretti reclaimed second before loosing it to Josef Newgarden on the next lap.

The close racing behind allowed Simon Pagenaud to build a lead but Newgarden didn't give up and started to close the gap. Leader Pagenaud had exhausted all of his push-to-passes, unlike Newgarden who still had three uses of the boost to his disposal.

Andretti continued to drop back, falling out of the top five after being passed by Justin Wilson and Simona de Silvestro.

Josef Newgarden couldn't quite catch Pagenaud who went on to claim his second win of the season. Second place was still a strong result for Newgarden, the first odium of his career.

Sebastien Bourdais finished third followed by Justin Wilson, Simon de Silvestro, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Sebastian Saavedra and championship leader Helio Castroneves. Marco Andretti ultimately finished tenth.

Helio Castroneves continues to lead the championship standings from Scott Dixon. The Kiwi's retirement however means he now sits 49 points adrift of the top spot. Simon Pagenaud's with moves him up to third in the standings. Marco Andretti remains in fourth but a bad day for team mate Ryan Hunter-Reay dropped him down two places to fifth.

The next event in the IZOD IndyCar Series will be a double header on the streets of Houston, Texas in four weeks time. The event marks a return to racing for the streets of Texas' largest city which hosted Champcar races between 1998 and 2007.

The previous round at Sonoma couldn't be covered here due to prior commitments.

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