When the IZOD IndyCar Series arrived in Baltimore in 2011, some local fans seemed to pick a favorite driver based largely on his first name.
Oriol Servia didn't disappoint.
The Spaniard, whose first name is pronounced much like a certain baseball team, finished second to Will Power in the first Baltimore Grand Prix.
It has been a bumpy road ever since for Servia, 39, who lost his full-time ride after the 2011 season when Newman-Haas Racing closed its operations and spent 2012 with Dreyer & Reinbold.
When Dreyer & Reinbold couldn't fund a car after this year's Indianapolis 500, Servia joined Panther Racing — a technical partner of Dreyer & Reinbold — on the weekends when Australian Ryan Briscoe was driving in the American Le MansSeries.
The Grand Prix of Baltimore will be Servia's fourth race with Panther.
"The biggest thing we've lacked is continuity," said Mike Kitchel, the communications director for Panther Racing. "It's like a quarterback who needs to get timing with his receivers. He did really well in Iowa [finishing seventh]. In his defense, he's been in a stop-and-start situation."
Brother vs. brother
When Stefan Wilson makes his IndyCar Series debut in Baltimore, it will mark the first time that brothers will race against each other as teammates. Wilson will be in the No. 18 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing, while older brother Justin will be in the No. 19 car.
Brothers Mike and Robbie Groff raced against each other on different teams in 1998 at the Walt Disney World Speedway.
Justin Wilson, 35, had his best result since 2010 on Sunday in Northern California, finishing second behind Power at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Stefan Wilson, 23, said he has known for "about six weeks" that he would be moving up from the Firestone Indy Lights Series.
"I've been trying to do everything I can to prepare, but [it] will be tough because we're not going to get any testing beforehand," said Stefan Wilson, who has been studying his brother's race in Baltimore last year. "It's kind of going to be thrown into the deep end without any [floaties]."
The younger Wilson, who finished fifth in the 2011 Indy Lights race here while driving for Andretti Autosports, had spent most of the 2013 giving rides to VIPs in a Honda Civic Si safety car. His No. 18 car will be sponsored by Nirvana Tea, which will create a blend with the No. 18 on the packet.
"It's quite fitting that an Englishman will be representing a tea company," Stefan Wilson said.
The right call
Beaux Barfield, the director of competition for the IndyCar series, said that penalizing Scott Dixon of New Zealand for coming in contact with a member of Power's crew during a pit stop after the 65th lap in Sonoma was not difficult, though it might have cost Dixon the race and handed it to the 32-year-old Australian.
"Ultimately, we have a duty to protect everybody in pit lane," Barfield said. "If we have somebody who uses less-than-great judgment when they leave the pit box and we have an incident, then we have to make a statement by penalizing."
Power's team owner Roger Penske scoffed at the charge by Dixon and Ganassi crew chief Mike Hull that tire changer Travis Law purposely got in the way of Dixon's car by holding a tire between him and the car, adding that a drive-through penalty was the right call. Dixon, who is currently second in points behind Helio Castroneves of Brazil, finished 15th.
"These things are pretty clear in the rule book," Penske said. "As far as I'm concerned, our guys were doing a job, changing a tire. He picked the tire up and got hit by a car from behind."
Penske was also upset with driver Marco Andretti. After the race, the normally diplomatic Penske was shown on the NBC telecast yelling at the 26-year-old Andretti for causing contact during the race between the back of his car and the front of Castroneves' car. Both drivers were able to finish the race.
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