FORMULA DREAM/PANASONIC DRIVER HIDEKI MUTOH RETIRED IN 20TH PLACE FROM THE SAO PAULO INDY 300 IZOD INDYCAR SEASON-OPENER AFTER CONTACT Formula Dream / Panasonic driver Hideki Mutoh started 14th for the season-opening Sao Paulo Indy 300 and ran...
FORMULA DREAM/PANASONIC DRIVER HIDEKI MUTOH RETIRED IN 20TH PLACE FROM THE SAO PAULO INDY 300 IZOD INDYCAR SEASON-OPENER AFTER CONTACT
Formula Dream / Panasonic driver Hideki Mutoh started 14th for the season-opening Sao Paulo Indy 300 and ran as high as sixth place but contact while trying to avoid hitting the car of eventual third place finisher Vitor Meira ended his race in 20th place.
Light sprinkles fell before the start of the 75-lap event which featured changing weather from warm and sunny conditions to overcast to a mid-race downpour that brought out the red flag for approx. 30 minutes. Soon after the field took the green flag, a multi-car accident in Turn 1 brought out a full course caution.
Takuma Sato reportedly set off the chain reaction that included Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti and Mario Moraes. Many drivers pitted for new tires and to check for damage and Mutoh moved into sixth before the race returned to green conditions on Lap 8. Dan Wheldon passed for one lap later and Mutoh was in seventh on Lap 9.
He held his position with a comfortable two second lead over eighth place Meira until Lap 21 when he drove into the marbles and fell back to 15th place. The first round of pit stops came on Lap 23 under caution for Milka Duno who crashed.
Mutoh pitted with the majority of the field and remained in 15th place after fuel and a change of his red alternate Firestone tires for primary black's. He held his position on the restart on Lap 26 but made contact with the wall on Lap 28 after trying to avoid hitting the back of Meira's car under braking.
Shortly after that the race was red flagged for 36 minutes due to a heavy thunderstorm that swept through the area. Mutoh retired in 20th place and collected 12 points for his finish. Most of top-10 finishers each had their own struggles in the event. Will Power won the race that was shortened to 61-laps while Ryan Hunter-Reay finished second and Meira finished third after starting 16th.
Following are Mutoh's post race quotes:
"It was a disappointing race for the Formula Dream / Panasonic team. We had moved up as high as sixth and when I was in seventh I went into the marbles in Turn 3 and couldn't turn the car and many cars passed me while I was sliding everywhere. Then I almost hit Vitor, who was fighting with another car. Vitor slowed so I had to brake harder and lost the back end and had no where to go. They were my mistakes. We have to move on and focus on having a good weekend in St. Pete."