In typical fashion, Will Power dominated the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. Starting from the pole, the only laps Power did not lead were the laps during which green flag pit stops were cycling. The past few weeks he has been running like a Cheetah after an antelope. Power sits 5 points behind Dario Franchitti for the overall championship after this weekends event. I will say that the more Power wins, the more attractive he gets. When he stands on the podium covered in sweat and champagne and starts talking with that Aussie accent…whew!
The race on Sunday was the first at the downtown Baltimore street circuit. Practice was delayed on Friday as the track had not been finished due to the removal of some fencing for Hurricane Irene the week earlier. Also, organizers placed what could be the most ghetto chicane at the beginning of the front stretch to keep cars from launching over exposed light-rail tracks. The drivers looked like drunk drivers dodging speed-bumps as they navigated the curbs. Turn one of the circuit was of major concern due to the high entry speed and sharp, narrow angle. This season most drivers have been forgetting how to properly apply their brakes, so the concern was warranted. However, there wasn’t a single caution due to an accident in turn one during the race. But, during Sunday morning warm-up, Tony Kanaan’s brakes failed entering turn one. Kanaan, in an attempt to scrub off speed, ran into Helio Castroneves and launched into the air and through the run-off area narrowly missing some corner workers. It was akin to a scene in The Fast and the Furious. Travis Pastrana should take lessons from Kanaan because he stuck the landing…thankfully. Kanaan, Castroneves, and corner workers were all uninjured. I am pretty sure the corner workers needed clean underwear though. Kanaan, in a backup car, finished in 3rd.
Simona “Swiss Missile” de Silvestro returned to the US after visa issues – stated as a “big misunderstanding” by her and the team – prevented her from racing at Infineon. Simona qualified 12th, her best start of the season, ran in the top 10 all day and led one lap during pit-stops. However, Simona finished 12th while on an alternate fuel strategy that didn’t pay off.
Ryan Briscoe caused a massive traffic jam on lap 38 in the hair-pin Turn 3 when he spun out Ryan Hunter-Reay. The resulting accident looked like Houston traffic at 5:30 on a Tuesday. Most drivers were able to continue, and race control, in typical fashion, did their best to try “solve” the restart line-up issues, but they only irritated fans…as usual. I won’t go into the details, but I will just say a monkey humping a football has a better idea of what he is doing than race control on any given Sunday. And for that matter, there shouldn’t be anyone “controlling” the race. Monitoring, yes. Controlling, no. If someone is driving with their head up their butt the other drivers should police it like the NASCAR “boys have at it” attitude. Plus, I’d love to see Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal cat-fight over a crumpled front wing. There would be weave and press-on-nails flying everywhere. Briscoe was penalized for avoidable contact.
To my disappointment, Tomas Scheckter did not race shirtless. After the race he did Tweet a picture of his blistered and beat-up hands. Not sexy. Many drivers did state the race was the most physical and demanding of their careers. Tomas also Tweeted, “My body feels like I been run over by a train and then a monster truck. It actually feels like I had an entire exgames on my body.”
Despite some community opposition, the inaugural race was a resounding success. The event was a sellout and it was estimated by the promoter that between 150,000-160,000 race fans were in attendance through the race weekend. It was also estimated that 75,000 fans attended on Sunday. There were more fans at the track on Friday for practice than some races have had for the main event on Sunday. The Baltimore GP also stated on Twitter the race had the highest ratings ever for an Indycar race on Versus, though no specific ratings have been released at this point. Fans, drivers, and teams all praised the event, the city, and the atmosphere comparing it to Long Beach in California. I will take a moment to say that one of the beautiful things about Indycar is the ability to run on any type of circuit, any street, anywhere. How many other types of motorsports can go exactly where there is demand? It doesn’t matter if it were Soso, Mississippi, downtown Los Angeles, or internationally…Indycar can race there.
Indycar has an off week this week before heading to the Twin-Ring Motegi in Japan on September 17th. The event will be the first Indycar race on the road-course because the oval was damaged during the earthquake on March 11 of this year. This year will be the last race for Indycar at the Twin-Ring Motegi. There have been concerns over nuclear radiation at the facility, though teams have been assured radiation levels are within safe ranges. I wonder if race control is going to penalize a driver if they sprout a 3rd arm during the race? Is that an unfair advantage? The race will be live on Versus at 11:30PM Eastern due to the time difference. I highly doubt I will be on a treadmill at 10:30 on a Saturday night to watch the race.