Pagenaud Claims Wild Baltimore Grand Prix
“Crazy race here,” he said. “Oh my God.
“I said at the beginning I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Unbelievable. I’m frustrated because the track is very bumpy and very slippery out there. I got everything. I slowed down hard enough. I feel terribly sorry for my guys. In my entire career, I have never run over anybody. But when I came into the pits I had so much debris on my tires I ran over my guy. Thank God he’s OK especially what happened last weekend with pit stops.
“My guys never gave up – John Erickson especially. We fight a lot but we should have our own TV show with the commentary over the radio in the race. Man, I can’t believe we finished Top 10.”
Castroneves admitted after the lap one incident he expected to lose 30 or 40 points to Dixon.
“I tried to stay cool,” Castroneves said. “I’m just happy Roger Penske wasn’t here to see all this. We were able to battle back to the Top 10. We did a better job coming out of the tricky corners. I’m speechless – if you had told me after Lap 1 I’d say no way.
“When I saw both Will and Scott crash I thought, ‘Oh My God.’ Will was doing everything he could to win the race and Scott Dixon the same way. Wow, what can I say?
“Again, I’d rather be lucky than good.”
The luck of Castroneves is certainly not to be underplayed at Team Penske.
“The guy had nine lives today,” Cindric said. “I don’t know what else to say. You still have to execute and on the first pit stop we didn’t execute in either pit. When you are going for a championship you can’t make those mistakes. Had we not had to do a drive through after that mess in the pits he would have been fighting for a win today. He might have also been taken out the way it turned out today.”
The IZOD IndyCar Series takes an unusual month off before resuming with the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston – a double-header on Oct. 5-6.
After the last week, it might be a good idea for the tempers to cool down.
Cindric, however, doesn’t see it that way.
“We want to race next week – that’s what we do. That’s not it. If you told me this is how it would turn out today I would say no way. If you write the script it would turn out different. I completely 110 percent understand what he is saying. I know when he is pissed off and he certainly wasn’t pissed off to the point of doing something like that. He has been on the receiving end in a championship run.
“Hell, Dixon is his buddy in some ways.”
But it’s undeniable the emotions are running high at both Team Penske and Target/Chip Ganassi Racing.
“I think it’s natural for them to make some assumptions there,” Cindric said. “When you look at what the facts are and maybe understand a few things before you talk about them. For them to challenge the integrity of our guys and people and call Travis Law out the way they did at Sonoma I don’t agree with that approach. I’m 100 percent sure that neither Travis or Will have done anything intentional. Everybody learns from things like that. Everybody has their own sides of the story and will see it differently but not right now.
“If you watch it live it looked to me like he ran into him but when you talk to him he didn’t even know he was there. Today is different – it’s easy to come to that conclusion but he didn’t do anything on purpose. The initial reaction is negative but you aren’t going to change what people think.”
Although it appears that Castroneves is in firm control of his destiny in regards to the championship Cindric is saying, not so fast.
“With Houston being a double-header it’s going to be wild,” Cindric said. “As you have seen the past few years the championship isn’t over until the end. There is quite a way to go. With three races to go anything can happen. That’s not a lot of points. It’s a shame we aren’t racing for a while because the way the race has been the last few weeks there are quite a few things to talk about.”
Oh by the way, Pagenaud won the race, surviving a crash fest that features 6 caution periods for 25 laps in the 75-lap race. Pagenaud’s Dallara/Honda defeated second-year driver Josef Newgarden’s Dallara/Honda by 4.1592-seconds. Sebastien Bourdais’ Chevrolet was third followed by Justin Wilson and Simona De Silvestro.
Dixon started on the pole but lost the lead to Power on the first lap when he was able to pull off a pass in the hairpin. Further back in the field, Castroneves had his front wing clipped bringing him into the pits for repair. Castroneves would run over his crewmember on his second pit stop and was given a drive through for a pit safety violation.
Later in the race, Dixon got turned around by former teammate Graham Rahal on a restart on lap 47 and Castroneves’ car also got wadded up in that crash further back in the field.
The final 28 laps would feature more contact, collisions and verbal assaults but none were bigger than the Power and Dixon incident that may have determined the championship.
The style of racing left a lot to be desired by even those who finished on the podium.
“I think that’s really when and where we probably as a group need to really think about these double‑file restarts, because, I mean, I think it was a pretty exciting show and everything,” Bourdais said. “But at the end of the day, when it’s just a series of incidents after incidents, it just reflects poorly on everybody and we just look like idiots and I don’t think it’s the best.
“But I don’t know what fans want to see, they want to see racing or they want to see crashes, but I definitely saw the first half of it was racing and the second part of it wasn’t so much.”