Baltimore flashback: Hunter-Reay kept 2012 title hopes alive with win (VIDEO)

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As you may know, Ryan Hunter-Reay won last year’s IZOD IndyCar Series championship over Will Power in the final race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

But the American driver likely wouldn’t have been in position to do that if he hadn’t triumphed two weeks before on the streets of Baltimore.

In that race, Hunter-Reay took the lead for good when he was able to get past Ryan Briscoe on a restart with six laps left. Roger Penske, then Briscoe’s team owner, called for and received a review of the restart from INDYCAR, but no action was taken against Hunter-Reay.

A multi-car incident at Turn 4 occurred shortly after the lead change, setting up a final restart with two laps to go. But Hunter-Reay would hold the point and go on to take a critical victory.

An early rain shower that affected some parts of the course made for interesting strategies. After the race went under its third full-course caution at Lap 19, Hunter-Reay opted to stay out on his dry slicks while Power and others hit pit road for wet tires.

But the track quickly dried up and Power had to pit again for slicks on Lap 27, knocking him back to 17th. However, Power put his street-course skills to good use, and actually rose back up to the lead prior to his final stop at Lap 56. He came out eighth after the stop, and eventually finished sixth.

Still, Hunter-Reay’s win on a day where Power had a chance to clinch the championship ensured that the title would be settled on Fontana’s two-mile oval.

There, Power crashed early on – and that opened the door for Hunter-Reay, who finished fourth to become t first American champion since the 2006 season (Sam Hornish Jr.).

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.