Team Penske’s Will Power dominated the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix on Sunday for Verizon Team Penske and took another major step in his IZOD IndyCar Series championship quest. The 2.4-mile, 13-turn layout — built for $6.5 million, largely from federal funds mandated for street improvements — wound through downtown streets past venues such as the Inner Harbor, Camden Cars and Oriole Park. Race organizers estimated that 150,000 attended the three-day event, which ended with Power’s Izod IndyCar Series-best sixth victory this season. With packed stands tons of Penske Racing fans were on hand for the Penske Racing Trio to start in 1-2-3 position due to solid performance at qualifications.
Power led three times on the challenging Baltimore street circuit on Sunday for a race-high 70 laps as scored his sixth win of the season. After leading a Team Penske 1-2-3 finish one week earlier in Sonoma, Calif., Power made it two consecutive victories in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda as he cruised to a 10-second win over Oriol Servia.
With the victory, Power trimmed the deficit to series leader Dario Franchitti to just five points with three races remaining in the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series. Power sliced 21 points off of Franchitti’s lead over the course of the weekend in Baltimore as the Penske pilot scored the points for the victory and the bonus markers for winning the pole and leading the most laps on Sunday while Franchitti finished fourth.
“I gave it absolutely everything I had,” said Power, who also captured his series-leading seventh pole of the season on Saturday. “That was an unbelievable result. One of my best races ever. That’s exactly what we needed. We’re closing in (on Franchitti).”
While Power was celebrating his victory, though, his teammates both encountered problems on circuit. Ryan Briscoe finished 14th in the No. 6 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske machine following a mid-race penalty, while Helio Castroneves came home 17th in the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske car after starting from the back of the field and falling a lap down when he was involved in a multi-car incident.