Ryan Hunter-Reay goes for 4 straight in Andretti-promoted events

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This weekend’s Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT (2 p.m. EST, Sunday, NBCSN) is a pivotal one for several drivers, but particularly for defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay as he seeks to continue his quest for a repeat. He enters the weekend third in points, trailing championship leader Helio Castroneves by 62 points (479-417).

A year ago in Baltimore, a mix of an excellent strategy by Andretti Autosport team owner and strategist Michael Andretti, coupled with a perfect last restart to take the lead from Ryan Briscoe, propelled Hunter-Reay to his fourth win of 2012 and within 17 points of Will Power going into the championship-decider at Fontana.

A reader brought this to my attention yesterday, and reminded me Hunter-Reay has an interesting streak on the line heading into this weekend’s race. He and the team are a perfect 3-for-3 in races Andretti’s Andretti Sports Marketing group promotes. “RHR” has won both Milwaukee races, and Baltimore a year ago.

I’ll admit my Formula 1 and sporadic NASCAR picks have left something to be desired all year. But, my hints that Charlie Kimball and Will Power would win at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma have come to fruition in the last two IndyCar races… so I like Hunter-Reay’s chances this weekend.

If RHR doesn’t pull off the four-peat, I think there’s a very good chance IndyCar will have its record-tying 11th different winner in a season, and my odds-on pick in that group is Dario Franchitti, which would be Ganassi’s first win in Baltimore.

We’ll see how it all shakes out and whether the crystal ball proved clear or cloudy on Sunday.