Ryan Hunter-Reay Earns Shot at Championship with Baltimore Win

No NameAnalyst ISeptember 2, 2012

BALTIMORE - SEPTEMBER 01:  Ryan Hunter-Reay of the United States, drives his #28 DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Andretti Autosport Chevrolet Dallaraduring practice for IZOD IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Baltimore  on September 1, 2012 on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay will get his chance at a championship after all. He earned it too, winning the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Sunday with his back flat against the wall.

Coming into this weekend’s race in Baltimore, Ryan trailed Championship leader Will Power by 37 points. Now heading into the season finale in Fontana, the lead has been trimmed to just 17.

Power started the race on the pole and just needed to stay up front to essentially clinch his first IndyCar Championship. The weather ended up playing a huge role in this race, where Hunter-Reay notched his fourth victory of the season.

When the rain drops began to fall, Power’s team decided to put on the Wet tires, instead of opting for the sticker Reds. This proved costly, as he slid to the back of the field when the rain never came. With Hunter-Reay having an extra set of Reds, he shot toward the front.

Hunter-Reay stayed out two laps longer than Simon Pagenaud did before making their final pit stops. On Lap 53, Ryan came out of the pits ahead of Pagenaud to take the lead.

Power quickly began making his way through the field. In the final 20 laps, he sliced his way through the field, working his way back into the Top Five. He did manage to finish sixth, and also clinched the three bonus points this weekend by earning the pole and leading the most laps. What could have been a disastrous day for his title hopes, turned out to be not so bad after all.

Ryan Briscoe, last weekend’s winner, somehow stretched his fuel to the very end and finished second. Pagenaud, the Rookie of the Year, kept his impressive season going, recording yet another podium finish. Scott Dixon and Rubens Barrichello rounded out the Top Five. It was the second straight Top-Five finish for Rubens.

The first half of the race was filled with yellow flags. There were seven full-course cautions in the first 40 laps of the event. Sebastien Bourdais’ 2012 season came to an end when his suspension issues forced him to retire from the race. Katherine Legge will be driving the Dragon Racing machine in the season-ending race at Fontana.

The 2012 IndyCar Championship will come down to the final race of the season. The 500 mile race at Fontana on Saturday night will be the ultimate stage. The September 15th event begins at 8 p.m. ET and can be seen on NBC Sports Network.