Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud had to battle hard on Sunday to come out as the winner of the IZOD IndyCar Series' Grand Prix of Baltimore. He grabbed the lead from Marco Andretti with seven laps to go and then held off Sebastien Bourdais' challenge with some contact on the same lap to win his second race of the season and second of his career.
"I thought it was over at some point but I always keep pushing, you never know, there might be an opportunity and we had it so I grabbed it," Pagenaud said after the race.
Championship contenders had a rough day in Baltimore. It was a day where contact on the track was the norm once again in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
The 75 lap race began with Scott Dixon on the pole and Will Power in second. Power was able to grab the lead from Dixon in Turn 4. Meanwhile, championship leader Helio Castroneves made contact with Josef Newagrden in Turn 4 and damaged his front wing. He came in on lap 2 to change the nose on his car. Ryan Hunter-Reay who entered the race third in points stalled on the opening lap and dropped to 22nd place.
On lap 5 Takuma Sato slowed with an engine issue and retired from the race with a 24th place finish. By lap 7 Power held a 1.3 second lead over Dixon and Simon Pagenaud was third, Justin Wilson fourth, and Josef Newgarden fifth. On lap 8 Dario Franchitti had brake issues and pitted to try to have his crew fix the issue. Then on lap 9 James Jakes retired with an issue and finished 23rd.
The first caution flew on lap 13 when Ed Carpenter got into the tire barriers. He would continue and finish one lap down in 14th. Under the caution Luca Filippi's engine caught fire and he retired from the race. Filippi finished in 22nd.
The race restarted on lap 20 and Simon Pagenaud moved into second past Scott Dixon in Turn 1. On lap 22 Newgarden got out of the groove and dropped from fourth to eighth he then pitted under green on lap 24. On lap 29 Will Power had stretched his lead to 7.8 seconds over Pagenaud when the eventual winner pitted under green from second. Charlie Kimball and Graham Rahal pitted from the top five on lap 30, Dixon on lap 31 and Will Power from the lead on lap 32. Also on lap 31 Dario Franchitti retired from the race due to brake issues. He finished in 21st.
Sebastien Bourdais inherited the lead when Power pitted and Tristan Vautier was second, Sebastian Saavedra third, Helio Castroneves fourth, Marco Andretti fifth, and EJ Viso sixth. They all had pitted under the lap 13 caution. Will Power ran in seventh.
Bourdais pitted from the lead on lap 40 right before the second caution flew on lap 41 when Stefan Wilson stopped on track. He was making his IZOD IndyCar Series debut and ended up with a 16th place finish. Those who did not pit since lap 13 all hit the pits under the caution and when Castroneves did he made contact into his right-front tire changer. The points leader would be issued a penalty for the contact. Also under the caution Ryan Hunter-Reay had electrical issues and stopped on track ending his day. He finished in 20th.
The race restarted on lap 46 with Bourdais in the lead. Scott Dixon was going for second when Graham Rahal got into the back of him and spun the Target driver in Turn 1. The whole field stacked up and had to stop as Dixon had the track blocked. That brought out the third caution when Newgarden, Castroneves, and James Hinchcliffe all stalled.
Then on the lap 52 restart Bourdais again led the field down but Rahal got a great start and was a nose ahead when Scott Dixon got slammed into the front stretch wall by Will Power to bring out the fourth caution period. Power went to make a move on the inside of Bourdais into Turn 1 but Dixon had already made the move to the inside of Power and Power did not look in his mirror. Dixon was relegated to a 19th place finish which hurt his championship chances. Power finished in 18th. It was the second straight week of drama between the two teams.
The race then restarted on lap 56 with Rahal in the lead. Bourdais was looking to make the pass in Turn 1 when he was clipped and spun out by Oriol Servia. EJ Viso, Sebastian Saavedra, Tristan Vautier, and Simona De Silvestro all piled in and stacked up in Turn 1 as the fifth caution flew.
Rahal needed to pit to put on his last set of tires and did so under the caution which gave the lead to Marco Andretti. His car had front wing damage on it. Tony Kanaan, who was making his record breaking 212th consecutive start, was second, Simon Pagenaud third, Justin Wilson fourth, and Sebastien Bourdais fifth for the lap 60 restart.
At the end of the lap Castroneves served his black flag penalty which sent him to the rear of the lead lap cars. The sixth caution then flew on lap 62 when Bourdais got into Wilson and spun him out in Turn 4. In the stack up James Hinchcliffe had stalled out.
The race restarted on lap 65 with Andretti still leading over Pagenaud, Kanaan, Bourdais, and Newgarden. Andretti jumped the start so IndyCar waved it off and the race then restarted on lap 66. On lap 68 Pagenaud made a great run deep into Turn 1 to take the lead from Andretti. Bourdais was able to pounce on Andretti as well to grab second.
Then later on lap 68 Bourdias made a move to the outside of Pagenaud for the lead and looked like he would take the lead. Pagenaud made slight contact into the side of Bourdais and then the rear which sent Bourdais toward the barrier where he had to brake hard to avoid hitting them. Pagenaud sped off while Bourdais slipped to fourth. On lap 69 Newgarden moved up to second past Andretti and started to run down Pagenaud.
His effort tailed off and Pagenaud was able to cruise to his second win of the year. At the end of lap 74 Kanaan had an issue and stopped on track but the race did end under green. Kanaan finished in 15th.
Newgarden had his career best with second and Sebastien Bourdais was third. Finishing in fourth was Justin Wilson and Simona De Silvestro finished in fifth. Charlie Kimball was sixth, James Hinchcliffe seventh, Sebastian Saavedra eighth, Helio Castroneves ninth, and Marco Andretti faded to the last lead lap car in tenth.
Tristan Vautier was 11th, Oriol Servia 12th, EJ Viso 13th, and Graham Rahal 17th. Rahal had late contact into the wall with about five laps to go and retired from the race.
With only three races left in the season Castroneves holds a 49 point lead over Scott Dixon. Simon Pagenaud moved up to the third position and is 70 points behind. Marco Andretti is fourth, 71 points back and Ryan Hunter-Reay is fifth, 74 points back.
The IZOD IndyCar Series has a break until October 5th when they will run The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Race 1. Race 2 will be on October 6th.
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