Baltimore, Md. – After a dramatic accident on the opening lap of the Grand Prix of Baltimore that saw Level 5 Motorsports’ pole-winning No. 551 entry and driver Scott Tucker taken out of the race, Level 5’s No. 552 car, with drivers Marino Franchitti and Guy Cosmo, put on a dominating performance to score the team’s fifth P2 class win of the season and a third-place finish overall.
As the field was approaching the green flag to start the race, Tucker was struck from behind and turned into the wall by Extreme Speed Motorsports driver Anthony Lazzaro who was later penalized for avoidable contact. Numerous cars were subsequently caught up in a chain reaction crash that forced the race to be red flagged for nearly an hour. Cosmo, starting from the fourth position, was able to avoid the accident and continue.
Tucker entered the race weekend leading the championship point standings and was starting the race from the P2 pole position after a spectacular qualifying effort yesterday from Ryan Briscoe.
“It was an unfortunate situation,” Tucker said. “I got hit from behind and it pushed me into the wall and spun me around. The crew gave us a great set up and Ryan gave us a great qualifying run so we were definitely where we wanted to be. You just never expect to go out like that.”
But, the fortunes were reversed for the team’s other Siemens/Alpina Watches/Ohiya Casino Resort-sponsored Honda Performance Development ARX-03b. After the team struggled with the car in practice and qualifying, Cosmo quickly took the No. 552 to the lead in his first race stint as a Level 5 driver. He joined the team earlier in the week after parting ways with Extreme Speed Motorsports.
“I feel so bad for Scott,” Cosmo said. “I hate it for him and the crew who have worked so hard. But, they gave us a great set-up today and we were able to show what this team can do.”
Cosmo handed the car over to Franchitti, who worked up more than a nine second lead over the ESM entry driven by Lazarro and Scott Sharp.
“The team did another fantastic job today,” Franchitti said. “After the troubles we had yesterday, we had a great car for the race. And Guy did a great job. Everything was just seamless. I’m glad we were able to get the win for the guys today.”
Following last year’s 1-2 overall finish on this Baltimore street circuit, Level 5 entered the weekend optimistic they could have repeat success. But, the very rough pavement and difficult track set-up makes for unpredictable racing.
“This is such a tight circuit and there is little margin for error,” said Team Manager David Stone. “It’s a shame when something like that happens and you have your race taken away from you, but there was nothing Scott could do. I’m happy that the 552 was able to go on and give us a great win. Marino and Guy did a great job on a very difficult track.”
Next up for Level 5 is the International Sports Car Weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, September 20-21, 2013. Qualifying at the 3.4-mile track will be held Friday, September 20, at 2:40 p.m. (EDT) and will be streamed live on ESPN3. The race will be held on Saturday, September 21, at 3:45 p.m. (EDT). In addition to being streamed live on ESPN3, the event will also be broadcast on ESPN2 Sunday, September 22, at 1 p.m. (EDT).