The caution recap from IndyCar at Baltimore

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It might be easier to just give the lap-by-lap notes of all the incidents that peppered the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT, a rather bizarre 16th race of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season.

So, without further adieu, here’s the IndyCar pit notes from the six caution flags, five of which occurred between laps 41 and 65:

  • Lap 13: Ed Carpenter stopped in Turn 5, and Luca Filippi off course in Turn 3 with an engine fire. Seven cars: Tristan Vautier, Sebastien Bourdais, Justin Wilson, Sebastian Saavedra, Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves and E.J. Viso, pit to go off sequence.
  • Lap 41: #55 Vautier leads #6 Saavedra by .7953 of a second. #18 S. Wilson makes contact with barrier in Turn 7. FULL COURSE YELLOW. Pits are open. The three leaders #55 Vautier, #6 Saavedra and #3 Castroneves are on pit road for four tires and fuel. #3 Castroneves misses his marks and has a slow stop. #83 Kimball, #1 Hunter-Reay, #25 Andretti and #19 J. Wilson. #7 Bourdais is the new leader under caution.
  • Lap 48: GREEN. #7 Bourdais leads the field into Turn 1. #15 Rahal spins #9 Dixon in Turn 1 and track is blocked. FULL COURSE YELLOW.  Cars involved are: #15 Rahal ,#9 Dixon, #3 Castroneves, #67 Newgarden, #27 Hinchcliffe
  • Lap 53: GREEN. #7 Bourdais leads the field into Turn 1. Behind, there is contact between #9 Dixon and #12 Power. #9 Dixon hits the wall with the right side and spins. #12 Power continues back to the pit lane. FULL COURSE YELLOW. Leader under caution is #15 Rahal who passed Bourdais entering Turn 1.
  • Lap 57: GREEN. #15 Rahal leads the field into Turn 1. #7 Bourdais spun in Turn 1 after contact from #4 Servia. Multiple cars are stopped on course with the track blockage. FULL COURSE YELLOW. Pits are open. #15 Rahal on pit lane for four red tires and fuel. #78 De Silvestro also on pit lane for four tires and fuel. New leader is #25 Andretti. Cars involved in the incident were: #7 Bourdais, #55 Vautier, #4 Servia, #6 Saavedra, #5 Viso, #83 Kimball and #78 De Silvestro.
  • Lap 63: Multiple car incident in Turn 3. FULL COURSE YELLOW. Pits are closed. Leader under yellow is #25 Andretti. Cars involved are: #19 J. Wilson, #27 Hinchcliffe, #4 Servia, #20 Carpenter, #15 Rahal, #7 Bourdais.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.