Will Power Captures IndyCar Season-Opener

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 14 2010
The going was soggy for the late stages of the IndyCar season opener in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of the Indy Racing League)

The going was soggy for the late stages of the IndyCar season opener in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of the Indy Racing League)


Will Power of Team Penske won the IndyCar Series season-opening race Sunday, beating Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport to the finish line by 1.8 seconds in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The victory was the second of Power’s IndyCar career. He won from the pole in Edmonton last year.

The win came in Power’s first race back from a back injury he suffered at Infineon Raceway last year.

Power was in second place on the final restart of the race, which came with 6 minutes and 20 seconds to go in a race which became a timed event because of a lengthy rain delay. Hunter-Reay restarted as leader.

With 3:36 to go, Power made his winning move and took the lead. Hunter-Reay never got back into position to challenge.

“It was probably the most mixed up race that I have ever been in, but it created an opportunity for me and the Verizon team to come back through the field and end up winning the race,” Power said.

Vitor Meira of A.J. Foyt Racing came home third in the rain-shortened Sao Paulo 300 street race, making him the highest finishing Brazilian in the race.

It was Meira’s first road course race since he suffered a back injury at Indianapolis last May.

“It couldn’t be much better than that,” Meira said. “I think Will (Power) can relate to it with a back injury and all that, it gets pretty uncertain at some times and having a team behind you making sure that the seat is availble, makes a big difference during the recovery. This is the start of the big thank you I have to give to A.J. (Foyt) and ABC Supply. I hope we get better.

“We overcame a lot here. Like Will said before, it was a mixed up race. I think whether you were able to keep your nose clean and were fast enough to make up position in all conditions, you could come out with a good result and that’s what we did.”

Raphael Matos finished fourth and Dan Wheldon of Panther Racing was fifth.

Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing was sixth. Polesitter Dario Franchitti, who was last year’s series champion and Indy 500 winner, was seventh.

The race got off to a shaky start as a huge pile-up on the first lap took American Marco Andretti out of the race.

Rain and pooling water brought out the 36-minute red flag about half way through.

Qualifying for the race was moved from Saturday to Sunday morning because the IRL and track promoters had to roughen-up slippery portions of the track.

“The improvements that they made to the track last night were like night and day,” Power said. “I didn’t have a problem at all going down the frontstraight. I think it was just a really good day for racing. If you were fast, you could pass, because there is such a good track layout here. I’m pretty sure it was an exciting race for the fans.”

Four women started the race.

The best finisher among that group was Ana Beatriz, who was racing in front of her home-country fans. She was 13th and finished on the lead lap.

Danica Patrick was second among the women. She finished 15th, a lap off the pace.

“I think the weekend started really tough for the No. 7 car and then we made a lot of progress at the end of the first practice day and that was really good,” Patrick, who spent the month of February in NASCAR, said. “I’m proud of everyone for staying together and forging ahead instead of getting down. We missed the setup a bit in qualifying, but for the race I think my engineer (Eddie Jones) got the downforce right and my car was really good.

“We made it up to eighth and were making passes happen. Then when the rain started not everyone came in right away and we gambled on staying out. I mean, you’ve got to try and win the race. The front half of the track was wet and I locked up going into Turns 1 and 2, but worst off the car stalled. At the end of the day I think the GoDaddy.com car is going to be strong this year and the team overall is a lot stronger than we’ve been. It was a good first out for us.”

Simona De Silvestro, making her firs IndyCar start, finished 16th but grabbed the lead at one point in the race.

Milka Duno finished 21st after being involved in a wreck.

Results Sunday of the Sao Paulo Indy 300 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.536-mile Sao Paulo Street Circuit, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (5) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

2. (4) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

3. (16) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

4. (12) Raphael Matos, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

5. (18) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

6. (7) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

7. (1) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

8. (19) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

9. (9) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

10. (6) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

11. (3) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

12. (17) EJ Viso, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

13. (22) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

14. (8) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 61, Running

15. (13) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 60, Running

16. (11) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 58, Running

17. (20) Mario Romancini, Dallara-Honda, 46, Contact

18. (15) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 30, Contact

19. (2) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 28, Contact

20. (14) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 27, Contact

21. (24) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 20, Contact

22. (10) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact

23. (21) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact

24. (23) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact

Race Statistics

Winners average speed: 76.733

Time of Race: 2:00:57.7112

Margin of victory: 1.8581 seconds

Cautions: 5 for 19 laps

Lead changes: 7 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders: Franchitti 1-23, De Silvestro 24-27, Hunter-Reay 28-36, Franchitti 37-42, Hunter-Reay 43-49, Briscoe 50-53, Hunter-Reay 54-57, Power 58-61.

Points: Power 50, Hunter-Reay 40, Meira 35, Matos 32, Wheldon 30, Franchitti 29, Dixon 28, Conway 24, Castroneves 22, Kanaan 20.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 14 2010