By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) — Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Sunday, a victory that keeps alive his hopes of winning the IZOD IndyCar Series championship.
Will Power could have clinched the overall title with a win, but the pole sitter finished sixth in a race that drew nine caution flags and was marred by rain.
Power will take a 17-point lead over Hunter-Reay into the final race of the year, on the oval in Fontana, Calif., on Sept. 15.
Ryan Briscoe took second, rookie Simon Pagenaud finished third and Scott Dixon came in fourth.
The race was marked by controversy, with Power and Briscoe questioning Hunter-Reay’s timing on a restart near the end of the race. Officials said a replay showed Hunter-Reay acted appropriately.
Power fell out of the lead around the 20th lap to make a pit stop for a change to rain tires. The other top three cars opted to stay on slick tires, so Hunter-Reay moved in front.
The rain quickly subsided, so Power pitted on Lap 28 to change back to slicks. That pushed Power back to 17th, and around that time Takuma Sato opened a six-second lead.
Power worked his way back in front and got two points for leading for the most laps. But the ending could not have been much more heartbreaking for the Australian.
Dario Franchitti’s disappointing season took another hit on Lap 21 when he spun to a stop after his car was clipped from behind by Simona de Silvestro. The collision damaged the front of Silvestro’s car, and he eventually dropped out of the race.
Franchitti finished 13th.
Sato was forced to drop out in Lap 50 due to mechanical difficulties.
Sebastien Bourdais exited on Lap 32 with mechanical failure in the suspension. Bourdais was fourth in qualifying.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)