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.

Indy Lights: Oliver Askew wins Freedom 100 in thrilling finish

John Cote / IndyCar
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Oliver Askew won Friday’s Freedom 100 Indy Lights race in thrilling fashion, narrowly edging out Ryan Norman for the victory by an incredibly slim margin – 0.0067 seconds to be exact – in the fourth-closest finish in Freedom 100 history.

Askew took the lead away from teammate Norman just a few feet away from the yard of bricks on the final lap, which was all he needed to claim his third win of his maiden Indy Lights season.

“This is unreal,” Askew told NBC Sports in Victory Lane. “I’ve never raced in front of so many people in my life. This is unbelievable.”

“I woke up this morning and I felt like this could be the day. Starting from eighth, I knew I was going to have a good car. This is incredible. Oh my gosh.”

With Askew and Norman finishing 1-2, Rinus VeeKay would finish the race in the third position. Toby Sowery and Dalton Kellett would round out the top five, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Race polesitter Robert Megennis would be the last driver to finish on the lead lap, taking the checkered flag in the eighth position.

The yellow flag would fly twice in the 40-lap event, with the first caution coming out on lap two when David Malukas spun in Turn 4.

Malukas would make contact with Chris Windom, sending both drivers violently into the inside wall. Both drivers would walk away from the incident safely.

The second caution of the day came out on lap 30 when Sowery made contact with Megennis at speed in Turn 1, causing Sowery’s car to turn in to the nose of the No. 2 car of Megennis. Somehow, both drivers were able to save their cars from making contact with the wall and would continue to race, though Sowery was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact.

With his victory, Askew now sits at the top of the series points standings with 190. He leads VeeKay by 11 points.

The Indy Lights schedule now moves on to Road America, with a double header scheduled for Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

Click here for full Freedom 100 results

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