Ryan Hunter-Reay took the checkered at the IRL Grand Prix of Baltimore with a late pass of Ryan Briscoe.
This was a huge win for Hunter-Reay as it moved him to within 17 points of series leader Will Power with just one race remaining.
Hunter-Reay was strong all day, but he wasn't the only driver running well. Briscoe had a strong car, Simon Pagenaud also led his share of laps and so did Power.
For Power, the finish has to be especially painful.
He blew an excellent shot at glory in this race. He entered as the pole sitter and defending champion. Had he been able to repeat that performance, he had an excellent shot at leaving with more than a 54-point lead in the overall standings, which would have locked up the championship for Power.
By losing ground and seeing his lead shrink, Power now has to be getting an ominous Déjà vu. In each of the last two seasons, Power has had the points lead late in the season, but he was not able to capture the championship.
This was an exciting finish to a race that was slowed by nine cautions and rain. Those delays were terrible news for the IRL. They desperately needed a first-rate event. The IRL continues to suffer through evaporating popularity.
The Baltimore Sun highlights that with this tweet:
Smaller crowds, cloudy weather greets Grand Prix spectators; Race On refuses to reveal number of tickets sold. bsun.md/OEZIZ7— The Baltimore Sun (@baltimoresun) September 2, 2012
The other thing hanging over this race's head is a bit of controversy about the end. Both Power and Briscoe felt that Hunter-Reay got off too quickly on a late-race restart, but officials did not agree.
So Hunter-Reay leaves with the victory, and a renewed hope at capturing the championship.
Check out the final standings here.
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