Baltimore, MD- The Izod IndyCar Series is in Baltimore for the third annual Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT.
So far the chicane and Scott Dixon vs. Will Power rivalry has stole most of the headlines this weekend.
One of the biggest headlines being overlooked is the dominance of the smaller teams at the 2.04-mile street circuit.
Normally when we talk about favorites on an IndyCar race weekend a Chip Ganassi, Team Penske or Andretti Autosport driver comes up. Despite Dixon and Power starting on the front row for Sunday’s 75-lap race, the smaller teams are dominating.
Sam Schmidt/Peterson Motorsports looks to be the strongest overall team as they put both cars in the Firestone Fast Six. Simon Pagenaud will start third while his rookie teammate Tristian Vautier will start sixth.
Pagenaud, who finished third here as a rookie last year, was quickest in the morning session setting the weekend’s fastest lap. He was fifth quickest on Friday.
Vautier was fastest on Friday in the two combined sessions and gave them a viable threat to win.
Both backed that up Saturday and could be the favorites to take the checkered flag.
It’s not just SPM though dominating.
Dale Coyne Racing’s Justin Wilson has been quietly strong being 10th in practice and qualifying fourth. Sarah Fisher/Hartman’s Josef Newgarden has been quick all weekend as well bringing his No. 67 Honda home fifth in qualifying today.
That means SPM, Coyne, and SFHR took four of the top six spots in qualifying.
Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing has been very quick too. Graham Rahal was well on his way to a Firestone Fast Six appearance but crashed after setting the fastest lap in Round 2 with just minutes to go. Due to the crash Rahal lost his top two laps and will start 12th instead.
He was sixth quickest in final practice and second fastest on Friday. His teammate James Jakes has been strong too being fifth fastest in final practice and will start 13th.
Overall, one of these four underdog teams could easily win tomorrow. This is a fun story to watch.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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