After four races of tinkering, INDYCAR has opted to remove the activation delay on the push to pass system for Baltimore this weekend. The system will only be used this season on road/street courses so this is its last appearance for 2012. The system was used with no delay in its first two races back in Toronto and Edmonton and then a five second delay was added at Mid-Ohio. The delay was reduced to 3.5 seconds at Sonoma and after driver feedback, it was removed altogether for Baltimore.
“We’ve had two races without the activation delay and two races with it,” INDYCAR Director of Engine Development Trevor Knowles said. “Based on driver feedback, we’re adjusting the parameters of push to pass to fit this particular circuit.”
Drivers will have a total of 90 seconds of overtake available with a maximum of 20 seconds per activation. There will be no recharge time needed between activations.
*Track Preview:* Drivers will run on a two mile, 12 turn temporary street course that runs past some of the most scenic parts of Charm City. The circuit incorporates Pratt Street, the Inner Harbor area, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The circuit has been tweaked a bit from the 2011 layout to make it better for the cars. Race distance will be 75 laps for 150 miles. Will Power is the defending pole sitter and winner. Television broadcast will be on NBC Sports Network beginning at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time with radio coverage on your local IMS Radio Network affiliate or XM Channel 94.
*What’s the Points (Driver Standings):* Will Power currently leads the point standings by 36 over Ryan Hunter Reay. Helio Castroneves sits third followed by Scott Dixon and rookie of the year Simon Pagenaud rounding out the top five. This is the third straight year Will Power has been leading the points with two races remaining but he failed to win the championship in the last two years. Is the third time the charm? Meanwhile, for those looking for a change at the top, rest assured defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti will not repeat this year. He was mathematically eliminated from championship contention at Sonoma.
*What’s the Points (Engine Manufacturers):* This battle is a done deal. Chevrolet clinched the Manufacturer’s Championship with Ryan Briscoe’s win in Sonoma. Chevy won nine of the 13 IZOD IndyCar Series races run so far this year. They also power the current top three drivers in points. Honda finished second and Lotus came in a very, very distant third.
*Featured Driver: Oriol Servia.* So is he the Baltimore Oriol? Funny, right? Servia actually posted one of his two best finishes of 2011 with a second place result in Baltimore. He made some moves to get there too after starting 12th. Servia, who drove for Newman Haas Lanigan last season, moved to the Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold team for 2012 and along the way there have been some challenges. The team started the year as just Dreyer & Reinbold but after losing engine manufacturer Lotus, they moved in and combined efforts with Panther Racing and Chevrolet. Still, Servia has four top five results this year and would love to have a strong performance in Baltimore again.
This is always a tough call at a track with almost no history. Will Power dominated last year but one year does not make much of a past record. Still, Power knows he has to pad that lead by as much a possible going in to Fontana because ovals are a weak spot for him. Look for him to be firing on all cylinders and get it done in Baltimore again.
*Any Other News:*
-Ryan Hunter-Reay brought home the victory at Milwaukee in a race promoted by his boss, Michael Andretti, through his Andretti Sports Marketing operation. Andretti and company are also the promoters for the race in Baltimore this weekend.
-Score one for the little guys. Ed Carpenter and his fledgling Ed Carpenter Racing operation are the only team to have been running at the finish of all 13 races run so far this season. They hope to see the streak continue. Carpenter started the team only ten months ago.
“It is very difficult to construct a team in just a few months and try to compete against the likes of Penske, Ganassi and Andretti,” said Carpenter. “We have a solid team with (general manager) Derrick (Walker) and (team manager) Tim Broyles leading the way. I have been able to concentrate on the driving side as well. I am proud of the way the team has come together and finishing every race this year shows the effort the Fuzzy’s Vodka team has produced this season.”
*Upcoming:* The IZOD IndyCar Series has just one more stop remaining on the 2012 schedule, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the MAVTV 500 on Saturday, September 15. The grueling 500 miler will be for all the marbles as far as the championship goes, unless Power can clinch it in Baltimore. Television coverage will be on NBC Sports Network beginning at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.
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