- Associated Press - Sunday, September 4, 2011

BALTIMORE (AP) - Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves ran into each other during the morning practice run at the Baltimore Grand Prix, and it wasn’t merely a casual encounter between two Brazilians.

Kanaan lost his brakes and came to stop after soaring over the right side top of Castroneves‘ car. The mishap occurred as Castroneves was breaking into Turn 1.

Neither driver was hurt, but both were forced to use backup cars in the race.

“I was actually lucky that Helio was there. He saved my life,” Kanaan said. “I lost my brakes, and I was heading straight to the wall. I’m glad that both of us are OK.”

Castroneves said, “To be honest, I was glad I was there. Maybe I softened his impact.”

Because both drivers had to change cars, they started from the back of the pack.

“He was very apologetic, but there’s nothing to apologize for,” Castroneves said. “It was a mechanical issue that wasn’t his fault.”

Starting 27th, Kanaan ran a brilliant race to finish third.

The mishap before the race helped Kanaan realize the important things in life.

“This morning I woke up and was in a bad mood. I was complaining about things that didn’t matter,” he said. “I think somebody was trying to tell me that I have it good.”

Castroneves came in 17th.


START YOUR ENGINES: Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell served as grand marshal of the race and barked the order, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” to begin the show.

Before that, Powell rode in the back of a two-seat IndyCar with two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser.

“I like to tell my friends that I led the Indy 500 for three laps,” said Powell, who previously served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I would like to do it again.” he said.

Powell presented the championship trophy to Will Power in victory lane, which was actually a makeshift stage in front of the Baltimore Convention Center.


SUCCESSFUL DEBUT: The drivers were impressed by the crowds that swarmed to Baltimore for the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix.

“It was unbelievable, and I had high expectations,” said Oriol Sevia, who finished second. “I never witnessed a place where there was such a turnout the first time.”

Randy Bernard, CEO of IndyCar, said, “Today’s race had something for everyone and featured all the elements that make up a marquee event.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake deemed the event a total success.

“We had an opportunity, with IndyCar’s help, to shine on an international stage,” she said.

The road construction and closed streets created a massive traffic jam Thursday, but by Sunday night that problem seemed insignificant.

“The naysayers had their day until the race started,” Rawlings-Blake said. “It was a fantastic event that brought people from all over the country and internationally to enjoy this race.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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