INDIANAPOLIS – Five different IZOD IndyCar Series teams were represented in the top five and eight in the top 10 of the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT on Sept. 1.
Justin Wilson, who overcame early brake issues and being spun late in the grueling 75-lap race on the 2.04-mile, 12-turn street circuit, isn’t surprised. The depth of competition has been the strongest he’s witnessed in years.
“Every weekend you know you have a chance,” said Wilson, who started fourth in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing. “You just have to make the most out of it and not make any mistakes. It’s a tough championship. So many good drivers and so many good teams, you need everything to go just right.”
There have been 10 different winners, including four for the first time. Of the 32 drivers who have competed in more than one of the 16 races this season, 15 have recorded podium finishes and 21 have scored at least one top five.
The latest addition to the list of podium finishers is Josef Newgarden, the 22-year-old Tennessee native who was the runner-up to Simon Pagenaud at Baltimore.
Newgarden, who won the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights race on the Baltimore course, qualified a season-best fifth in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car. It was an adventurous race for all 24 competitors on a humid day, with Newgarden running fourth on Lap 20, losing three positions after brushing the concrete barrier in Turn 12 and dropping to 19th place after pit stops.
“I don’t know how I finished second to be honest,” said Newgarden, who registered two other top-five finishes this season. “I got hit probably six or seven times in the rear. I know I slammed into people myself from getting hit. I don’t even know how to describe this race to anybody. I think everyone had some good and bad luck.
“Fortunately, the good luck cycled at the end of the race for us and we finished off great.”
On the sixth caution of the race, Newgarden was up to fifth place. Two laps after the lap 67 restart, he moved to third and overtook Marco Andretti for second on lap 70.
“Second place is a great result for our team,” Newgarden added. “I wouldn’t be an IndyCar driver without them. I’m so thankful for all the hard work they put in. We really haven’t had any reward yet over the last year and a half and I think this is great for everybody. We just have to go get a couple more now.”