He’ll always have Baltimore.
For the time being – but perhaps, for all time – Simon Pagenaud will stand as the final winner of the Grand Prix of Baltimore. The Frenchman claimed the checkered flag by the Inner Harbor this past Labor Day weekend, standing tall after perhaps the craziest race of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series so far.
But unfortunately, word came yesterday that the Baltimore event would be cancelled for at least the next two years as INDYCAR and race organizers were unable to find a new date for it. Scheduling conflicts for Labor Day weekend in 2014 and 2015 proved too much to work around.
And that makes Pagenaud, in his words, “really sad,” according to a report from Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun. While understanding of the difficulties of scheduling races, the Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports pilot is unhappy to leave behind both a top-notch street circuit and a great setting.
“It’s disappointing to me, because it’s a place where I’ve had so much success and a race that has been a real turning point in our season the last few years,” Pagenaud told The Sun.
“It’s a long street course with a lot of diversity. A little bit of everything. It’s one of the best to drive on because of how far you can push yourself. Honestly, I think everybody loved it. It’s a shame. It’s a great city that I enjoy coming to.”
Pagenaud’s explosive move from sixth to the lead on a mid-race restart was a highlight in the 2012 race at Baltimore, which ended with him on the podium after starting ninth. Then a few weeks ago in Charm City, he passed Marco Andretti for the lead with seven laps to go and went on to claim his second win of the season.
He won’t be able to make any more Maryland memories for a while. But at least he has some fond ones to look back on.
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.