Pagenaud wins crash-filled Grand Prix of Baltimore
BALTIMORE — History will show that Simon Pagenaud won the 2013 Grand Prix of Baltimore.
The lasting image of Sunday's race, however, will be Scott Dixon stuck in his car against the wall after another unfortunate run-in with rival Will Power.
Pagenaud charged to the lead after a series of collisions involving several other contenders on the bumpy, challenging street course that runs through the middle of the city.
None of those mishaps was more significant than the one involving Dixon and Power.
Last week at Sonoma, Dixon held the lead until he received a drive-through penalty with 15 laps to go for hitting a tire in the left hand of Power's tire holder. Power won the race.
On Saturday, Power spun Dixon during practice. Then came Sunday, when the duo ran into each other again — quite literally.
During a restart on the 53rd lap, Power swerved right in a crowd in front of Dixon while trying to pass Sebastien Bourdais. Power clipped the barrier, and Dixon ultimately lost control and smacked into the wall, ending his day.
Afterward, a distraught Power said, "I was just looking at Bourdais' back. I had a good run on him and I was going to go off his inside. Dixon, obviously, had the same run on me. I feel bad. I just didn't even think to look in my mirror. I was just trying to win the race, trying to beat Bourdais. I feel terrible. I'm just so sorry."
Power made it to the pit but was given a penalty for interference and finished 18th, one spot ahead of Dixon.
Dixon was mad at just about everybody, including Graham Rahal (for earlier spinning Dixon's car) and Oriol Servia, whom he accused of passing him on a yellow flag. He also took a shot at IndyCar officials for not allowing him the chance to get back into the race.
"That restart was a complete botch," Dixon said. "I had an overtake advantage on Power — it must have been in fourth gear, so they can't complain about wheel spin. Then I got beside him and he ran me straight into the wall. Then, they wouldn't (let me) bring the car back."
It was the second career victory for Pagenaud, both this year. The 29-year-old Frenchman joins Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay as winners of this 3-year-old race.
"I struggled there for a bit, but we picked up in the middle section there (and) we got very lucky on the restarts," Pagenaud said.
Bourdais, who finished third behind Josef Newgarden, said about the wacky afternoon: "It was one those races, when you finish, you feel like you survived. It was the usual Baltimore chaos, with one restart after another."
The collision between Power and Dixon came after a pileup on the turn in front of the baseball stadium. On Lap 48, Rahal spun Dixon and created a logjam involving five cars.
Minutes before that, IndyCar points leader Helio Castroneves received a black flag for a safety violation during a restart. Castroneves finished ninth but increased his points lead to 49 over Dixon, who remained in second place. Pagenaud moved into third place, 70 points off the pace.
Tony Kanaan, the Indianapolis 500 winner, made IndyCar history by participating in his 212th consecutive race. He eclipsed the mark held by Jimmy Vasser while driving in the No. 11 Chevrolet for Vasser's KV Racing team. Kanaan hit the wall near the end of the race and finished 15th.
"It was a very physical and bizarre race," Kanaan said.
Hunter-Reay fell off the pace early with an electronics issue and never recovered. He was forced to withdraw from the race after 42 laps with mechanical difficulties.
"It just died all of a sudden," he said.
Hunter-Reay started the day in third place in the point standings and fell to fifth.
"To see the championship slip away, it's frustrating," he said.
James Jakes and Takuma Sato dropped out of the race early with mechanical difficulties. Luca Filippi followed, and Dario Franchitti broke down for good after 22 laps. It was a particularly bad day for Franchitti, who before the race received a 10-spot grid penalty for an unapproved engine change.
Before the race, IndyCar officials placed rookie Tristan Vautier on probation and fined him $10,000 for actions during qualifying Saturday, when his car made contact with the car driven by Rahal under a waving yellow flag condition.