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Pagenaud wins crashfest in Baltimore

An ugly, crash-filled IndyCar race last Sunday on a crude, bumpy street circuit in downtown Baltimore was won by Frenchman Simon Pagenaud. It was Pagenaud’s second win of the year but Simon admitted that luck was on his side as almost everyone in the field crashed or collided with another car or two.

indycar  Pagenaud wins crashfest in Baltimore

“That was a wild day, wasn’t it?” Pagenaud said. “In racing you’ve got to have some luck and I had some today, to be honest. I thought it was over at one point but I always keep pushing. You never know what will happen. There was an opportunity and I grabbed it.”

Pagenaud’s win pushed him into third in IndyCar’s point standings. “My car was fantastic,” Simon added. “I had some problems with (tyre) pick-up in the middle of the race and I was lucky that we didn’t get collected on any of the restarts. But phew! I pushed hard on the last restart and I guess it’s great for the championship.”

Near the end of the race Pagenaud collided with his friend Sebastien Bourdais as the latter tried to take the lead around the outside. “I got wide in the last corner,” Pagenaud explained. “There was a lot of pick-up and I exited the corner sideways. I never thought he was going to come that way so I took the usual line and he was there. I didn’t mean to pinch him. I’m sorry about that, but it is what it is, I guess.”

indycar  Pagenaud wins crashfest in Baltimore

Commented Bourdais: “I’ll let people judge it but I have my own opinion. I think it’s pretty clear what happened. We’re friends but there are no friends on the racetrack. I learned that the hard way today.”

After qualifying fifth Josef Newgarden drove a good race to beat Bourdais into second place. It was Newgarden’s first IndyCar podium. “I wanted to give Simon a run for his money,” Newgarden remarked. “I think we had the pace but we had no brakes left. I tried to cool them off and almost threw the car into the wall in turn one when the pedal went to the floor. But second is a great result for our team. We needed this.”

The race may have ruined the championship hopes of Scott Dixon who was knocked into the wall by Will Power on a restart with 22 laps to go after one of many full course yellows. Dixon was annoyed that IndyCar refused to bring his car back to the pits for repairs.

indycar  Pagenaud wins crashfest in Baltimore

“It clearly states [in the rules] that they’ll bring the car back to the pits unless there’s 10 laps to go,” Dixon remarked. “We’re fighting for every point and there’s a little bit of suspension damage, which is something we can repair. So I have no idea why they won’t bring the car back to the pits. It’s just another example of [race director] Beaux [Barfield] making it up as he goes every time. There’s just no consistency. Rahal took me out and didn’t get a penalty and then Power put me in the wall. Man, it’s been a rough couple of weeks.

“I’m upset about Power,” Dixon added. “I don’t know what he was thinking. I was clearly alongside and he just turned straight into me. When you’re pulling in that direction you’re going to see a car there in your mirror. I’ll talk to Will later. I don’t want to say something that I’m going to regret.”

Power said he didn’t see Dixon and apologised for his mistake. “I got a run on Bourdais and I was looking at his back,” Power commented. “I pulled out to pass him and then I was in the wall. I thought I must’ve lost it on cold tyres or a bump. I didn’t know what happened. I had no clue Scott was there and I feel terrible for him.

indycar  Pagenaud wins crashfest in Baltimore

“I was going to go up the inside and Dixon obviously had the same run on me. I had such a good run on Bourdais I didn’t think to look in my mirror. I just feel bad for Dixon. It’s just a bad thing to have happened. All I can say is I’m so sorry for Scott. It absolutely wasn’t intentional. I didn’t know he was there.”

Power said he believes IndyCar should not have double file restarts on street circuits. “I think they’ve got to change the rules on these double file restarts,” he said. “I don’t think we should have double file restarts on street courses. I think they should be done away with on street courses. It just doesn’t work on these tracks. It makes for yellow after yellow after yellow and I don’t think people want to watch racing under the yellow.”

Also out of luck in Baltimore was defending champion Ryan Hunter-Reay who fell to the back early in the race when his engine stalled. After making good progress through the field Hunter-Reay’s race came to an end when a battery failure left him stranded on the track. The DNF put an end to Ryan’s hopes of retaining his championship.

indycar  Pagenaud wins crashfest in Baltimore

As a result of the Power-Dixon collision Hélio Castroneves extended his championship lead over Dixon to 49 points. Castroneves finished ninth after yet another mediocre performance which included a stop and go penalty for hitting one of his crewmen during a mid-race pitstop.

A very messy race indeed, emphasizing the point that IndyCar needs to dramatically improve its poor standards for street circuits. There are seven street circuits on the calendar and all of them are extremely rough and poorly presented. It’s time for IndyCar to raise its game.

Click here for more on IndyCar from Gordon Kirby

indycar  Pagenaud wins crashfest in Baltimore

Add your comments

10 comments on Pagenaud wins crashfest in Baltimore

  1. John, 2 September 2013 10:34

    The racing, when they finally managed to get a clean restart at the end, was fantastic, but the circuit looked terrible. The silly looking chicane on the front straight, and the massive bumps into the first corner, they have to dramatically improve the condition of the track.

  2. IM, 2 September 2013 11:48

    Sadly I can’t raise any interest in what’s happening in IndyCar these days – it feels like a mismanaged backwater and the cars just look silly (oh, and, they are all the same). Oh for the days of Mears, Foyt, the Unsers and innovation.

  3. JSaviano, 2 September 2013 14:50

    Had to stop watching that race. Began to be amateurish. Indycar is truly at a low ebb. Spec cars, poor rules, silly enforcement.

    It needs a total revamp, but I don’t see how that can happen.

  4. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 2 September 2013 14:51

    It was interesting to see single-seaters repeatedly getting air-borne at “the chicane” during qualifying…

    Looked like fun!

  5. Tiger Al, 2 September 2013 17:45

    Wow, incredible action at the end. Having lost interest in the sanitized F1 world, I just sat back and loved this crazy race!

  6. Don Larsen, 2 September 2013 22:57

    Amateurish, second rate spec series with dorky cars. Sad.
    One of the announcers went on about what an international field of drivers this was, which the IRL was formed to reform, as I recall. Tony George destroyed CART and open wheel racing in the U.S. in order to provide an avenue for oval racers to reach the Indy 500. How many do you see getting there? It’ still a few good, not great drivers, some rich guys, and people whose skill is in securing sponsorship rather than race cars.
    Not worth watching anymore.

  7. jeff, 2 September 2013 23:33

    As annoyed as I was by the garbage in the middle, I thought that the first half and the end of the race were fantastic. Great drives by Simon and Seb. Too bad Josef Newgarden cooked his tires, I was really pulling for him. Oh, and I think that the DW12 is one badazz race car!

  8. Bob, 2 September 2013 23:55

    How unimpressive an event it was. Yes, the series has some talent, but so many seem to lack the basic strategic awareness of drivers from just a generation ago. A great city, and a decent track layout but the devil is in the details. And what awful details. Why slow down a street race with that silly chicane and too many needlessly cramped corners and still try to insist that I’m watching a race? I’m watching an amateur series at best, screaming that it’s not. Only thing worse would have been if someone had said “fuel strategy”. Add some strange rule making, and you have completely destroyed the rhythm and pace that top level racing needs.

  9. The Original Ray T, 3 September 2013 17:52

    F1 journalists are such snobs. This racing is actually entertaining to watch, although it is pretty bad driving on a pretty bad track, but it is a welcome contrast to F1, where no one would think of coming near another car without DRS, and bumps would cause mussing of the hair.
    Yes, its spec racing, but surprisingly, suspension bump-stop settings and legal court battles are just not interesting on Sundays.

  10. Tiger Al, 8 September 2013 21:28

    First, Don Larsen, it might be said that CART ruined CART because they thought they were bigger than the Indy 500; they should not have driven George out. That race is bigger than any series. Second, Don and Bob, while not slick, over-refined, and full of itself (like F1) Indycars has more competition and variety than anything else. (More growing pains, too!) Third, Bob, this series does not have an automatic passing wing; all gimmicks are available to all drivers, all the time. That alone gives this series a leg up!

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