BALTIMORE -- Time is running out in the race to determine the Firestone Indy Lights champion.
With three rounds remaining, 16 points separate the top three competitors. Points leader Carlos Munoz has withstood pressure from all directions after taking over the lead in Long Beach, even falling back to second by a slim four points after Sage Karam's victory in Iowa in late June. At the moment, his nearest threat is Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Gabby Chaves, who is 15 points back after a Mid-Ohio win.
"I think (it is anyone's championship)," Chaves said. "We've seen what can happen from one race weekend to another, it can just turn upside down. I think everyone in the top-five has a win, so it's definitely going to be very interesting coming down to the last few races."
The series returns for its third race on the streets of Baltimore with 11 entries, tied for its highest car count with Indianapolis and Mid-Ohio. Apart from the eight full-timers, the field is joined by road/street course entrant Matthew Di Leo, Belardi Auto Racing's Giancarlo Serenelli and Dalton Kellett, who makes his series debut with Pabst Racing. The team, led by Augie Pabst, has been a regular in the USF2000 Series since 1996.
ENTRY LIST | WEEKEND SCHEDULE
Of the 11 drivers entered in the 35-lap race only four competed in last year's edition, where Munoz finished 12th due to a mechanical issue. Finishing highest of those four was Belardi Auto Racing's Peter Dempsey (fifth), who got his first series win in stunning fashion this year at the Firestone Freedom 100.
Since then, Dempsey has come close to victory twice with two consecutive second-place finishes at Toronto and Mid-Ohio, but knows he'll need more to overtake the drivers ahead of him.
"In the series this year it's all about wins, and you know, you can just as easily gain 20 points back like Jack (Hawksworth) did at Toronto with a win and Munoz finishing fourth," Dempsey said. "My plan before this, again, was to go and win three of the next four races, and now I've got to go win three of them. So it's going to be a bit more difficult for me.
"But I think the five of us are certainly still there, it's so really whoever comes out and stays together for the last three races will going to win it."
Green flag for the Grand Prix of Baltimore waves at 12:35 p.m. (ET) Sept. 1. The race will air on NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m., immediately following the IZOD IndyCar Series race.