Power piles pressure on Franchitti

Indycar

Will Power dominated last Sunday’s inaugural IndyCar race on the streets of Baltimore. The Australian took his seventh pole of the year and led most of the way to win easily from Oriol Servia and Tony Kanaan. Championship leader Dario Franchitti qualified fourth and ran third for most of the race, but finished fourth after the field was scrambled by a late, full-course yellow. Power’s win – his sixth of the year – pulled him to within five points of Franchitti with three rounds to go in this year’s IZOD IndyCar championship.

“Oh man, that was the toughest race I’ve done all year,” declared Power. “Honestly, I’ve never driven so hard in my life. Before the last stop they said I had 10 laps to get enough of a gap if you want to win this thing, and I just gave it everything. I’m exhausted. I was thinking in my head, I want to win this championship. We’re coming.

Franchitti was no match for Power in Baltimore and now has a serious battle on his hands if he’s to win his third title in a row and his fourth since 2007. “Getting stressed about it doesn’t make you go any faster,” he said. “You just go out each week and do your best. That’s what we’ve done when we won the last three championships and that’s what we’ll do this time.”

Graham Rahal enjoyed his best race of the season in Baltimore. He qualified second and led Power for a few corners on the opening lap before settling into second place hard on his tail. But Rahal was caught out by the late yellow, which meant he had to pit under the green flag for his final splash of fuel. The stop dropped him into the midfield and he was able to finish no better than 10th.

“The strategy killed us but it wasn’t our fault,” said Rahal. “The officiating was terrible, if you ask me. Why did we stay yellow for so long? There were no cars on the track. We didn’t need to stay yellow for 10 laps. [President of competition and racing operations Brian] Barnhart said in the drivers meeting that he wasn’t going to wait to figure any scoring problems out. We needed about 10 or 12 laps of hard running to pull that gap and unfortunately we didn’t get it.

“If they had said there was a lot of oil on the track and we were going to be down for another five or six laps then I would understand. I’m really disappointed. Between Will and I we were the class of the field. We had everybody covered by half a second.”

Kanaan’s third place was particularly impressive after the Brazilian crashed heavily in morning warm-up when his brakes failed. Kanaan had to start the race from the back of the field in a hastily prepared spare car.

Three races remain in this year’s championship – the Motegi road course in Japan in two weeks’ time followed in October by two high-banked oval races in Kentucky and Las Vegas.

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