Pagenaud downbeat after demise of Baltimore race

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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.

INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

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