Ryan Hunter-Reay’s late race restart ambush of Ryan Briscoe secured a come-from-behind win at the Grand Prix of Baltimore and set up an exciting IndyCar finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana in two weeks.
With his win, Hunter-Reay now trails IndyCar series leader Will Power by 17 points going into the final race of the season at SoCal’s Auto Club Speedway on September 15th. With the race winner collecting 50 points, if Hunter-Reay also wins at Fontana, Will Power must finish second or third to take the IndyCar series title – fourth or worse, and Hunter-Reay takes the crown.
Will Power, who has been at the top of the series standings most of the season and was on fire early in the season with three consecutive victories, has not won since Sao Paolo Indy 300 in April. Meanwhile, Ryan Hunter-Reay has gotten hot, winning three in a row himself and four of the last seven races, including Baltimore.
The Auto Club Speedway showdown was set up by Hunter-Reay’s fabulous timing of a restart after a late race caution at Baltimore when he accelerated from second place into the lead past Power’s teammate Ryan Briscoe into Turn 1. Team Penske and Briscoe complained bitterly that Hunter-Reay jumped the start, but IndyCar race control maintained that Hunter-Reay began the charge after the green flag was waved – a legal restart. No other drivers are close enough to Power to have a chance to win the championship. Sure is strange not to have a Target Ganassi driver in contention!
On to the IndyCar finale in Fontana…
Interestingly, SpeedTV has reported that Team Penske is courting Hunter-Reay as a replacement for Briscoe in their third car for next year. For their part, Andretti Autosport maintains that they intend to have Hunter-Reay resigned for two years by the Fontana finale. Briscoe’s management has also been aggressively shopping his services to other IndyCar teams as his seat at Penske has been in question for some time. Sure makes for an interesting build up to Fontana. Stay tuned…
Autosport is reporting here that Hunter-Reay will be staying at Andretti Autosport.