California here we come. The IZOD IndyCar Series prepares for final showdown as championship chase comes to a head at the 2012 season finale in Fontana.
Ryan Hunter-Reay out duelled Ryan Briscoe in the closing laps of the Grand Prix of Baltimore and went on to win the race by just under 1.5 seconds and set up a thrilling season-ending race in Fontana, Calif. It will be the seventh year in a row that the IndyCar championship will be decided by the outcome of the final race of the year.
On the streets of Baltimore, Hunter-Reay used all the tools at his disposal, including the last of his push-to-pass allotment, to hold off Briscoe and take the checkered flag. Simon Pagenaud, who was crowned the IndyCar series Rookie of the Year a week earlier, finished third in the race.
“I can’t describe how nerve racking that is when it rains on a street circuit and you’re on slicks and the championship is on the line. Unbelievable emotions in the car, just trying to tiptoe through some of those corners.” Hunter-Reay talked about his frustration during the race once it started to rain. “These cars are very stiffly strung and they are 700 horsepower, and putting that down on a city street when it’s wet is one of the tougher things in racing I think. That was very nerve-racking.”
Will Power heads into the final race of the IZOD IndyCar Series with a 17-point lead over Hunter-Reay and 52 points ahead of Helio Castroneves. A maximum of 50 points are available under the IndyCar series point-scoring system, with bonus points awarded to the driver qualifying on the pole position and the driver leading the most laps in the race. For his part, Power says he is ready for Fontana.
“It’s going to be an interesting 500-mile race. Maybe it will be the first last race that I finish, because, every year, I get crashed out,” he said, adding that he is determined not only to finish the race, but finish it as IndyCar champion. “We just have to do our best and fight like a dog till the end. We’ll come out swinging.”
Power clinched his third-consecutive Mario Andretti Road Course Trophy, which goes to the driver amassing the most points on road-course races.
The top driver on oval tracks is awarded the A.J. Foyt Trophy. Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan are tied heading into the final race of the IndyCar season, on the two-mile oval in Fontana, California.
The 2012 IZOD IndyCar season comes to a close at the MavTV 500 on Sept. 15 in California.