Published: Monday September 3, 2012 MYT 8:00:00 AM
Hunter-Reay wins, whittles Power's Indy lead
BALTIMORE, Maryland: Ryan Hunter-Reay kept his IndyCar title hopes alive Sunday with a victory in the Grand Prix of Baltimore, closing the gap on series leader Will Power with one race remaining.
Hunter-Reay's victory, coupled with a sixth-place finish for Power, saw him move within 17 points of the Australian.
The IndyCar season concludes on September 15 at Fontana, California.
The 75-lap race on the 2.04-mile (3.28-kilometer), 13-turn temporary street course in downtown Baltimore featured nine cautions.
Australian Ryan Briscoe, who won last weekend in Sonoma, California, was leading during the eighth caution. But when racing resumed on lap 70, Hunter-Reay surged past him into the lead.
Briscoe's team argued that Hunter-Reay advanced his position before the green flag waved to signal the end of the caution period, when overtaking is allowed.
But Hunter-Reay escaped a penalty. A last caution resulted from a multi-car crash involving Mike Conway, Justin Wilson, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal.
After the last restart, Hunter-Reay pulled away from the field over the final two laps.
Power was running fifth but bumped Brazilian Rubens Barrichello and lost a spot.
Hunter-Reay crossed the finish line 1.4 seconds ahead of Briscoe for his series-leading fourth victory of the season.
He came to Baltimore 36 points behind Power, but is now just 17 adrift.
"We still have a shot," Hunter-Reay said. "We all want it bad enough, we can go get this thing. The team deserves it. It's a matter of if we can put it together."
Going into the season finale, Power tops the standings with 453 points to Hunter-Reay's 436.
"It never comes easy," said Power, who got the three bonus points for earning the pole and leading the most laps (22). "We just have to do our best and fight like a dog till the end. We'll come out swinging."
French rookie Simon Pagenaud finished third, while New Zealand's Scott Dixon and Barrichello rounded out the top five. - AFP