Power Claims Victory in Wild Sao Paulo Indy 300 Making the last of multiple passes for the lead, Team Penske's Will Power overtook Ryan Hunter-Reay on the 58th circuit of a rain-shortened 61-lap Sao Paulo Indy 300, to win Sunday's season-opening...
Power Claims Victory in Wild Sao Paulo Indy 300
Making the last of multiple passes for the lead, Team Penske's Will Power overtook Ryan Hunter-Reay on the 58th circuit of a rain-shortened 61-lap Sao Paulo Indy 300, to win Sunday's season-opening round of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series, and the inaugural IndyCar event in Brazil's largest city.
In his first race since sustaining a season-ending back injury last August at Infineon Raceway, Power started fifth on the 2.5-mile temporary street circuit, configured around the Sao Paulo "Sambadrome", and was running second when the race was red-flagged due to a heavy rain shower on Lap 35 of a scheduled 75. When racing resumed 35 minutes later, it became a timed event with just over 40 minutes remaining.
At the restart, the field was still running wet weather "rain tires" and pit strategy - deciding when to change to dry weather "slicks" - became a key element in the outcome of the race. Power was one of the first to change and, although he resumed in sixth place, he soon moved up the order as the circuit continued to dry. At the front of the field, Hunter-Reay and Power's teammate, Ryan Briscoe, traded the lead until Briscoe nosed into the wall on Lap 53 to end his challenge.
On the Lap 56 restart, Hunter-Reay faced a new challenger - Power - who ultimately found a way past the Andretti Autosport driver on Lap 58, edging out a 1.5-second margin over the final two laps to claim his second IndyCar win, and fifth major open-wheel racing victory.
Just behind the leaders, A.J. Foyt Racing's Vitor Meira was in the thick of a fierce battle for third place that included fellow Brazilian Raphael Matos and former series champions Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. Meira, also in his first race since sustaining a season-ending back injury at the 2009 Indianapolis 500, passed Matos for third on Lap 57 to claim the final podium position and best finish among seven Brazilian drivers participating in their home-country event.
IZOD IndyCar Series action continues on a temporary street circuit, but returns "home" to the USA on March 28 for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Will Power (#12 Penske Racing Honda) started 5th, finished 1st, his 2nd career IndyCar Series win to go with 3 ChampCar race victories: "It was the most mixed-up race I ever been involved in, but I'm glad because it created an opportunity for me to come back through the field and win. The improvements [to the circuit] that were made last night were like night-and- day. We had absolutely no problem on the front straight today. I saw Ryan make a mistake. At that point I wasn't sure how many laps were left. They told me on the radio there were six laps to go. I said 'six laps until I pit?'. They said 'no, six laps left in the race', so I went for it."
Ryan Hunter-Reay (#37 Andretti Autosport Honda) started 4th, finished 2nd, his first race with Andretti Autosport: "First off, it's great to have a race in Brazil; these fans are passionate about their racing. It was a great street race with lots of passing opportunities, which is exactly what we needed. It's really good to see these guys [Power and Meira] up here after what they've gone through. To see them drive the way they did today, especially on a bumpy street circuit, was really great."
Vitor Meira (#14 A.J. Foyt Racing Honda) started 16th, finished 3rd, best IndyCar finish for A.J. Foyt Racing since second at Watkins Glen in 2008: "It couldn't have been much better than this. When you have a back injury, there's a lot of uncertainty. Having the team behind you and knowing that seat is waiting for you, makes a big difference in your recovery. I feel great, this is good for the team and for the people who support and have their faith in us. We have to return that and this result makes us very, very, happy."
Jack Spurney (General Manager, Honda Performance Development) on today's IndyCar debut in Brazil: "It was great to be in Sao Paulo for the start of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season. The circuit design, with three long straights and the challenges of a street course, made for excellent racing with a lot of leaders, including the impressive Simona de Silvestro, who became the first rookie since Graham Rahal to lead their first IndyCar race. The finish was tremendously exciting, with the battles for both first and third. Congratulations to Will Power and the entire Penske organization on a well-earned victory today, and to all our associates at Honda Performance Development and our technical partner Ilmor for a fine start to the 2010 season."
-source: honda racing