1. WILL a champion be crowned?
Will Power has taken control of the championship in the last few events and sits on pole today in Baltimore with a 37-point edge over Ryan Hunter-Reay. He's going to need a 54-point clearing by the end of today in order to clinch his first IZOD IndyCar Series title. If he does so, it'll be the first time since 2005 that the series championship won't be decided in a season finale; that year, the late Dan Wheldon clinched the championship with one race remaining. FYI: Power won from pole last year at Baltimore.
2. Chicane trouble
Multiple drivers had problems with the newly installed front-stretch chicane in yesterday's practice and qualifying sessions, so it'll be very interesting to see how everyone handles it in race mode this afternoon. A short stack of tires has been placed near the first portion of the chicane and the concrete barrier on the left side near the chicane has been moved to a different angle that isn't as harsh for the drivers.
3. Turns 1 and 3
These corners proved to be major passing zones in the inaugural Baltimore running last year and should stay that way this afternoon. Turn 1 is a sharp right-hand turn with more than enough bumps to test the drivers' wills. A decent straight then sends the IndyCars into Turn 3, a left-hand hairpin that was the scene of the memorable 'traffic jam' in last year's event. Obviously, both corners have as much potential for calamity as they do for overtaking.
4. RHR's last stand?
The American driver has been visited by an engine failure (Mid-Ohio) and a late incident that cost him a podium finish (Sonoma) in the last two races, and after yesterday's ill-fated qualifying session, he'll have to start 10th after penalties this afternoon. Baltimore has ample passing opportunities for Hunter-Reay to make his way up the pylon, but he's got to hunt down Power, who has been great so far this weekend. The goal for RHR is clear today: Do whatever it takes to ensure that his title bid goes all the way to the Sept. 15 season finale in Fontana.
Simon Pagenaud was fastest in this morning's 30-minute warmup session, posting a lap of 78.7420 seconds in the No. 77 HP/Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports Honda. He was followed by another Honda-powered driver, Scott Dixon, who put up a lap of of 78.7495 seconds that was good enough for P2. Hunter-Reay was third-quickest in his Chevy (79.2639 seconds).
Today's Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT is slated to take the green flag at 2:47 pm ET.
Here's your starting grid for today's event after all engine penalties were assessed:
78-Simona de Silvestro
Incurring penalties of 10 spots on starting grid for unapproved engine changes: Conway, Sato, Junqueira, de Silvestro and Kimball.