Simon Pagenaud has won the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT, where the 75-lap IZOD IndyCar Series race featured a clean first half and a second dominated by cautions and carnage.
Pagenaud won a similarly wild race in Detroit race 2, with a first half that was peppered with six cautions. He should advance in the championship as well, as he entered the race fifth in points and three of those ahead of him finished poorly (Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti)
“Wild day wasn’t it,” Pagenaud told NBCSN in victory lane. “The car was fantastic, we struggled a bit with pickup. We didn’t get collected though, and I guess that’s good for the championship.”
The mayhem began on a restart at Lap 48, when Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon made contact while battling for second in Turn 1. Dixon was sent spinning while the field behind him created a jam-up at the right-hander.
With no action taken by INDYCAR on the matter, the field lined up for the next restart – which promptly ended in more disaster.
In an apparent attempt to pass Sebastien Bourdais on the inside down the front stretch, Will Power moved into Dixon and sent the championship contender into the inside wall.
“Rahal takes me out, doesn’t seem like there’s any penalty, and then the 12 [Power] just slams us into the wall,” a frustrated Dixon told NBCSN.
“Man, it’s been a rough couple of weeks…I don’t know what [Power] was thinking. I was clearly alongside and he went straight into me.”
Upon seeing a replay of the incident after the race, Power quickly turned somber.
“I was just looking at Bourdais’ back,” Power told NBCSN. “I got a good run on him, I was gonna get on his inside and Dixon obviously had the same run on me.
“I just feel bad about it. Had I looked in my mirror – I don’t know, I just didn’t even think to look in my mirror…I just feel bad for him. I know he’s in the championship hunt. Man, it was just a bad thing to have happen.”
Another restart with 19 to go ended with another track blockage in Turn 1, but shortly after the next restart at Lap 66, Pagenaud made it past an ailing Marco Andretti at Turn 1 (he had a damaged front wing), and Andretti fell through the order. Pagenaud and Sebastien Bourdais had contact at Turn 8, and Bourdais was affected.
“I passed TK on that (first) restart and then Marco on the second one, and then I pushed as hard as I could with a broken wing, but it actually made the car pretty good,” said Pagenaud.
In second was Josef Newgarden, with an overdue first career podium finish in the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing No. 67 Honda. Sebastien Bourdais finished third for his third podium of the year in the No. 7 TrueCar/McAfee/Bing Chevrolet for Dragon Racing.
Justin Wilson and Simona de Silvestro rounded out the top five, de Silvestro’s first top-five since St. Petersburg 2011 when she finished fourth. De Silvestro turns 25 today in her best finish of the season.
There will be much more to follow after a crazy race.