- Associated Press - Friday, September 2, 2011

BALTIMORE (AP) - Imagine a golfer playing a course with tiny greens, thin fairways and a lot of rough _ and loving it.

Now you know how IndyCar drivers feel about the street course at the Baltimore Grand Prix.

“I’d say it’s a track with a mix of everything. Fast corners, slow corners, bumpy corners, low-grip surface, high-grip surface and some very technical corners,” said Will Power, who averaged 89.4111 mph on Friday, the day’s fastest practice time. “I love the track. I think it’s great.”

For Power and Dario Franchitti, who finished second at 89.325 mph, tough is good.

“The more technical and tougher it is, the better it is for the good drivers,” Power said.

And when you’re talking about good drivers, Franchitti and Power are currently the best. They rank 1-2 in points in the IndyCar Series.

Maybe it’s because they like the idea of testing themselves in difficult conditions. This course has manhole covers, covered train tracks, hairpin turns and tight pit crew stations.

“You’ve got your hands full because you’re pushing it to the limit,” Franchitti said. “You’ve got to be inch-perfect on those walls. Occasionally, you rub up against them. It’s all part of the challenge.”

It makes for outstanding entertainment.

“We want to put on a good show on for the fans. It’s a first-time race,” Power said. “We’ve got to deal with what we’ve got.”

Ryan Briscoe had a tough time at Turn 5, making contact with a tire barrier that resulted in right front damage.

“I got in a little hot and the right front wheels clipped the barrier and we hit the wall,” he said. “It’s busy out there _ but fun.”

James Hinchcliffe agrees.

“This is a fun, challenging track,” he said. “It’s a good layout with some technical parts.”


DELAY OF GAME: The practice session was delayed for more than four hours while workers put in fences, many of which were removed in anticipation of Hurricane Irene passing through town over the weekend.

The drivers adjusted accordingly.

Danica Patrick said she stayed in her robe and lingered over breakfast.

“It’s a new track. They had the hurricane potentially coming through so they couldn’t put the fencing up,” Power said. “It’s understandable.”


TOUGH JOB: Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves has been selected as a judge for the 60th annual 2011 Miss Universe Pageant in Brazil.

Castroneves, who grew up in Sao Paulo, can’t wait for the assignment.

“This year’s pageant will celebrate beauty, tradition and accomplishment _ three things that I certainly have a lot of appreciation for,” he said. “I am looking forward to returning to Sao Paulo and I know we will have a very fun and interesting evening on Sept. 12.This is going to be awesome!”



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