Allan Brewer, IndyCar correspondent
Team Penske's Will Power swept to his third consecutive win of the 2012 IndyCar season by overpowering the field on the way to victory in the Sao Paolo, Brazil 300. Power's margin of victory was nearly one second over Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosports.
The 75-lap race was marred by five full-course yellow flag periods that slowed the competitors around the 2.5 mile 11-turn Anhembi circuit, including a lap 71 restart that concluded the contest when Power outmaneuvered Hunter-Reay in the decisive on-track move of the day.
"That was the key to winning," said Power, of his inside position through Turn 1 with Hunter-Reay to his outside. "Ryan got a really good jump. I knew I just had to go like you wouldn't believe through the first complex of corners because I knew he could get a run on me. Ryan is one of the hardest guys you will ever race; he never gives up.”
I knew I just had to go like you wouldn't believe through the first complex of corners...
"I really, really challenged him on the outside," said Hunter-Reay. "I thought that was my time to do it there on the restart because he was getting such a great exit out of so many corners. Jumped it a little bit there and tried to get him, but he had that inside.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato finished third despite a penalty for an unapproved engine change that left him in the last position (25th) on the grid at the start and an in-race penalty for speeding in the pit lane on Lap 12.
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves was fourth after overtaking Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti on the final restart to round out the top five.
James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosports with sixth, Panther's JR Hildebrand seventh and Ganassi Racing's Charlie Kimball eighth ahead of E.J. Viso of KV Racing Technology in ninth.
“This track, especially now with the different engine manufacturers – and the car is more sensitive when you take downforce out – lends itself to being able to make some passes out there,” Hildebrand said. “You combine that with the difference between the red and black Firestone tires and it made for a really exciting race. It certainly was for us.
“I know all of us at Panther are happy to come away from here with a solid top 10 and head into the Month of May in the top 10 in the points standings,” he continued.
Hildebrand's top-ten finish came in the wake of Panther Racing owner John Barnes' ill-timed tweet referencing "Turbogate" that landed the long-time IndyCar maven a $25,000 fine and probation until the end of the year.
Panther Racing uses engines from Chevrolet, which had appealed a decision by IndyCar allowing the changes that eventually added power to the Hondas. A three-person panel upheld the series' decision at a hearing in Indianapolis on Thursday.
Formula One veteran and native Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, competing in his first IndyCar series race in his hometown, recorded his third consecutive top-10 finish.
Power further solidified his lead in the IndyCar championship points lead, now holding a 45 point advantage. The win was the fourth time in four starts that a driver and car from Team Penske has taken the checkered flag first under Chevrolet power.