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After Daring Restart, Hunter-Reay Holds On at Grand Prix of Baltimore

9.4.2012 (Via The New York Times) – Stacks of tires lined the sharp right turn at the end of the long main straightaway at the Grand Prix of Baltimore, and Ryan Hunter-Reay probably lucked out after the biggest restart of Sunday’s chaotic race by not barreling into them.

But he made the turn, kept the lead and swept to his fourth victory of the IndyCar Series season, making a double winner of the owner of his car, Michael Andretti, whose sports-marketing company was hired in May to resuscitate the financially troubled race.

“You can’t even do a wedding in 100 days,” Andretti said.

Andretti even caught a bouquet Sunday: Hunter-Reay moved closer to the points leader, Will Power, heading into the 15th and final race of the season, a 500-mile race in Fontana, Calif., on a 2-mile oval on which Power has never raced.

Hunter-Reay, a gregarious, 31-year-old Texan, stands 17 points behind Power. The difference between first and fourth in an IndyCar Series race is 18 points. Andretti, the 49-year-old son of Mario Andretti, said his driver would win the title.

“We’re making it a show in Fontana, and that’s what it’s all about,” Andretti said.

After peering into the grandstands on the muggy, overcast afternoon at the Inner Harbor and wishing to see a few more fans, Andretti pulled on a headset in the pits and made calls to Hunter-Reay, one of his three drivers.

Hunter-Reay started 11th in the 25-car field, but Andretti made a decision early in the 75-lap, 150-mile race that benefited his driver enormously. Andretti opted not to change to treaded rain tires when it began to drizzle.

“We just thought it was going to sprinkle,” Hunter-Reay said.

And the rain soon stopped. As other drivers, Power included, switched from rain tires back to slick tires, Hunter-Reay charged from 12th to 3rd place in seven laps. He stayed in contention the rest of the race.

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