Power prevails in IndyCar season-opener in St. Pete
St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Will Power's winning momentum in the Verizon IndyCar Series continue on Sunday, as he took the checkered flag for the season-opening race on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Power, who won the last two races of the 2013 season (second Houston race and Fontana, Calif.), put on a dominating performance in St. Pete by leading 74 of 110 laps. His No. 12 Team Penske team is sponsored by Verizon, which became the new title sponsor of IndyCar this year.
Takuma started on the pole and led 28 of the first 30 laps before Power grabbed the top spot from him. Power took command from there. He crossed the finish line 1.95 seconds ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 IndyCar champion.
"That was physical and hard, but pretty stoked to get the first win for Verizon as the series sponsor with the Verizon car," Power said. "It's a great day, a great [last pit] stop there when we all pitted at the same time. The boys [No. 12 Penske crew] got me out there. Really happy with that, and we executed well."
Power scored his 22nd career IndyCar victory, including his second in St. Petersburg. The Australian also won on this 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit in 2010.
The race ran caution-free until lap 76 when Charlie Kimball slid off course in turn 1. During the single-file restart on lap 82, Marco Andretti and rookie Jack Hawksworth made contact on the frontstretch. Power was slow on the restart when it appeared he had braked. His Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves, was running right behind and had to check up. The field then stacked up, causing Andretti and Hawksworth to crash.
"They threw the green early, and I thought we were meant to go in that zone," Power said. "I was surprised. I don't really know what happened behind me...I didn't touch the brake at all. They can look at my data, I did not touch the brake."
Hunter-Reay overtook Castroneves for second on lap 88 but could not catch Power at the end.
"Will was really good," Hunter-Reay said. "We were matching each other there at the end, lap for lap, so I was pushing as hard as I possibly could. I couldn't catch him."
Castroneves, a three-time St. Pete race winner, finished third, while Scott Dixon, the reigning IndyCar champion, placed fourth.
"Overall, we had a good race," Dixon said. "Historically, we haven't had the best start to the season here at St. Pete."
Simon Pagenaud was fifth. Tony Kanaan, who made his debut with Chip Ganassi Racing, took the sixth spot.
Sato, Justin Wilson, Josef Newgarden and Ryan Briscoe, who is back with Ganassi's team this year, completed the top-10.
Juan Pablo Montoya finished 15th in his first Indy car race in 13 years. After competing in Formula One from 2001-06 and then NASCAR from 2007-13, Montoya is running a full schedule in IndyCar this season, driving the No. 2 car for Penske.
"I think it went pretty good," Montoya said of his race. "There are a few things we have to do better, but I didn't feel my pace was too bad there at the end. I was keeping up with everybody, and it was good."
03/30 23:26:36 ET