- Associated Press - Sunday, September 4, 2011

BALTIMORE — Will Power wrapped his hand around a big bottle of champagne, shook it up, let the bubbly fly and took a long drink.

What better way to celebrate an absolutely perfect weekend?

Power put on a masterful performance Sunday over a difficult street course to win the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. The Australian deftly negotiated hairpin turns and confidently gripped the wheel over bumpy roads to earn his second straight win and career-high sixth of the season.

Power had the best time in Friday’s practice session, captured the pole Saturday, then led in 70 of the 75 laps to earn the $35,000 top prize.

“I’m just exhausted,” Power said, “but that was a championship run.”

Spain’s Oriol Servia finished second, 10.2096 seconds back, and Tony Kanaan of Brazil was third. Kanaan lost his brakes during a practice run Sunday morning, soared over Helio Castroneves’ car and had to drive a backup.

Power lost the lead early in the race to Graham Rahal, quickly gained it back and trailed only briefly thereafter after making a pit stop.

“It feels like one of my best wins,” said Power.

The victory moved him within five points of Izod IndyCar leader Dino Franchitti, who took fourth.

Scott Dixon was fifth and Danica Patrick took sixth. Patrick has three races left after this one before dedicating her entire efforts toward stock car racing.

The first street race in Baltimore featured several tight turns, uneven terrain, bothersome chicane and narrow pit lanes situated in front of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The word most often used to describe the 2.04-mile course was “challenging,” and it was certainly that.

There were no crashes, but the race was not without incident.

During practice sessions and qualifying, the drivers expressed concern about the perilous turns that left little margin for error.

Sure enough, the biggest mishap of the afternoon came on Turn 3 at the midpoint of the race. Seeking to turn on the inside, Ryan Briscoe clipped Ryan Hunter-Reay, whose car spun out upon contact. That created a logjam of 11 cars that forced rookie James Jakes out of the race.

Briscoe was penalized for avoidable contact and sent to the back of the pack for the restart.

Servia and Kanaan each made their final pit stop during the lengthy yellow-flag period that followed. That enabled them to stay within shouting distance of Power.

Although Power’s run was impressive, Kanaan’s day was by far more interesting. It began when he lost his breaks and narrowly avoided a serious crash by sliding up the right side of Castroneves’ car. Forced to use a backup, Kanaan started from the 27th spot and used a strategic run to work his way up to third.

“It wasn’t a fun ride this morning, but we recovered from it,” Kanaan said.

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