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Action at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

by • April 9, 2014 • EventComments (0)2323

Power won, Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, won the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for the second time since 2010. Ryan Hunter-Reay was second and Castroneves finished third. Power held off Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 driver champion, in a 22-lap sprint following a restart to prevail by 1.9475 seconds. Hunter-Reay overtook Power’s teammate, Helio Castroneves, in Turn 1 on Lap 88 for second. Castroneves, a three-time winner on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit and the runner-up in 2013, placed third.

Fans also have something to talk about heading to Long Beach. The fireworks came on the Lap 82. Power had the lead with Castroneves on his tail and the field preparing for the green. Power drove slowly through the final corner, then slowed again before accelerating.

Castroneves had to dive out of the way to keep from hitting Power; others weren’t so fortunate. In the middle of the pack, series newcomer Jack Hawksworth got hit from behind, spinning into the path of Marco Andretti. The irony being that it was the safety car period that brought about the first and only retirements of the race.

040814 - Indycar St Pete (Trevor)-65

Andretti and his team-owning father, Michael, weren’t happy, saying Power did that on purpose, and Castroneves agreed, calling it “a little trick move. I did that in the past when I was young,” the Brazilian said.

Power first said that IndyCar’s decision to throw the green ahead of the restart zone surprised him. But after further questioning, he admitted it was a move to expose Castroneves’ aggressiveness. Neither was penalized. Power blamed Castroneves for jumping a restart last year to the get the lead.

“Helio was getting out of line, that’s when I lifted off the throttle, I wasn’t going to let that happen,” he said. “He got out (there), he’s going to do his thing, jump the start (dots) (and) I was going to make it obvious by lifting a little. Then I just went.” Power said.

040814 - Indycar St Pete (Trevor)-4

Castroneves said: “He did what he had to do. I was not expecting (that). I was expecting constant speed. We did not have that. It’s competition and you have to keep learning from your
competition. Today I learned my lesson.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was third on the restart and finished second, said everyone can accept some blame in the first-race incident.

“The guys in the front need to not stack up the field as much and the guys in the back need to expect a stack up, and those two things combined (happened),” he said.

“I’m stoked to get the first win for Verizon as a series sponsor,” said Power, who started fourth after earning the pole the previous four years. “That’s how you want to start the season. I worked so hard in the offseason. We came into the season wanting to win a championship for (team owner) Roger (Penske). The field is so tight that I’m just happy we had a good race car.

Scott Dixon, the reigning series champion, finished fourth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car and Simon Pagenaud garnered a top five in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car. Takuma Sato, the pole sitter who led the first 26 laps of the 110-lap race under a cloudless sky, finished one place behind sixth-place Tony Kanaan.

040814 - Indycar St Pete (Trevor)-42

Seven different teams were represented in the top 10. Justin Wilson placed eighth in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing entry, while Josef Newgarden, who started 22nd but was second quick in the morning warm-up, gained 13 positions. Ryan Briscoe, returning to Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, was 10th.

Juan Pablo Montoya struggled in his first race in the series since 2000, but everyone expects him to be better at the next race, April 13 in Long Beach, California with more seat time in the car.

“I think it went pretty good,” said Montoya, the 1999 CART champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner who went on to win in Formula One and NASCAR before returning to Indy car racing for this season with Team Penske. “We were just burning up the rear tires with the setup that we decided to run. It was just a little too aggressive. There are a few things we have to do better but I didn’t feel my pace was too bad there at the end. It’s going to be a lot of work but I am very excited.”

Power earned the two bonus points for leading the most laps.

There were strong runs from the rookies with Hawksworth, who won last year’s Indy Lights race at this 1.8-mile circuit leading the charge. The other three rookies in the race Mikhail Aleshin, Carlos Munoz and Carlos Huertas all finished on the lead lap in positions 12, 17 and 18.

RACE RESULTS – Starting Place in parenthesis
1. (4) Will Power, Dallara-Chevrolet, 110, Running.
2. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running.
3. (10) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevrolet, 110, Running.
4. (5) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevrolet, 110, Running.
5. (14) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running.
6. (2) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevrolet, 110, Running.
7. (1) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running.
8. (16) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running.
9. (22) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running.
10. (9) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevrolet, 110, Running.
11. (11) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevrolet, 110, Running.
12. (15) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running.
13. (13) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevrolet, 110, Running.
14. (21) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running.
15. (18) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevrolet, 110, Running.
16. (12) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevrolet, 110, Running.
17. (7) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running.
18. (17) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running.
19. (19) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 109, Running.
20. (20) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevrolet, 108, Running.
21. (8) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 83, Contact.
22. (6) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 82, Contact.

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 93.572.
Time of Race: 2:06:57.6288.
Margin of Victory: 1.9475 seconds.
Cautions: 2 for 10 laps.
Lead Changes: 7 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: Sato 1-26, Castroneves 27-28, Sato 29-30, Power 31-52, Sato 53-57, Power 58-76, Conway 77, Power 78-110.
Points: Power 53, Hunter-Reay 40, Castroneves 36, Dixon 32, Pagenaud 30, Kanaan 28, Sato 28, Wilson 24, Newgarden 22, Briscoe 20.

Photos thanks to High Revs Photography

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