The inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix turned into one of the biggest street parties seen in the Maryland city in decades Sunday around the inner harbor of downtown Baltimore. A huge crowd welcomed the IZOD IndyCar Series to the “Charmed City” in the first-time downtown street race and the racing portion proved to the icing on the cake for the community.
Marco Andretti, eighth in IndyCar Series points, was knocked out of the race after his No. 26 Team All Natural Snapple car was hit in the side in the big lap 36 tangle in Turn Three. At least 15 cars were involved in the melee and Andretti’s mount was sidelined from the incident on the tough, demanding 2.0-mile 12-turn circuit around Camden Yards, the Baltimore Convention Center and four major hotels.
Marco’s practice sessions were low key. Finished 16th in qualifying, after which Marco observed ”It’s a lot of fun out there – I had a great time driving the Snapple car, but we are still struggling a bit. We’ll put our heads together, make some changes and hopefully improve before qualifying.”
Ultimately the unique circuit at the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix proved to be the talk of qualifying Saturday on the 14th stop on the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series. The bumpy front straightaway of Pratt Street and the smooth pavement of Conway Street made for vast contrast in the suspension settings of the IndyCars. But the 28-driver field put in a sensational round of time trials before a large Saturday crowd in downtown Baltimore. The Andretti Autosport drivers worked hard to master the tough, new street track: Marco Andretti would eventually qualify 23rd. Andretti, seventh in IZOD IndyCar Series points, recorded a speed of 88.597 mph in the No. 26 Team All Natural Snapple machine.