POWER LEADS STRONG TEAM PENSKE FINISH IN ST. PETE WITH SECOND STRAIGHT WIN IN VERIZON INDY CAR ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 29, 2010) -- Will Power maintained his momentum -- and Team Penske's -- by leading the team to victory Monday in the Honda...
POWER LEADS STRONG TEAM PENSKE FINISH IN ST. PETE WITH SECOND STRAIGHT WIN IN VERIZON INDY CAR
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 29, 2010) -- Will Power maintained his momentum -- and Team Penske's -- by leading the team to victory Monday in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Power battled back into the lead with the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda and went on to record his second consecutive victory and third win in eight races since joining the team last season. The victory highlighted a complete team effort as both Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves also earned their best finishes of the young season. Briscoe rallied from his 19th starting position to a third-place finish, while Castroneves completed the top-five production as he finished fourth.
"It's just great," said Power, who led the most laps after taking the lead for good on lap 73. "It's Verizon's first year, and we're out to win the championship. I'm really happy for all the Verizon guys and my crew. Perfect pit stops, good race, perfect weekend -- a pole and a win. It can't get much better than that."
Rain on Sunday postponed the Honda Grand Prix of St. Pete until Monday and showers continued to fall until about 90 minutes before the start of the race. Once the sun emerged over St. Petersburg, the track dried quickly but there were still some wet spots on the 1.8-mile street circuit.
Power, who started from the pole position, raced back into the lead after surrendering the point early as he got comfortable on the drying race track in the Verizon Team Penske machine.
The last racer to win two races to start the IZOD IndyCar Series season was former Team Penske standout, Sam Hornish Jr., who won at Phoenix and Homestead at the start of the 2001 season. Power was trailing E.J. Viso late in the race when Viso's car experienced a problem. Power made a quick move to avoid Viso and take the lead.
"I knew he had to save fuel, but then he had a problem at the end," Power said. "That was close. It sounded like his gearbox broke. I didn't want to nail him from behind, but I knew Justin Wilson would be coming. I just picked a side and went for it."
Briscoe recovered from a poor qualifying result to get back into contention and finish on the podium. "It worked out great," Briscoe said. "Qualifying was a mess for us. I think we underestimated the competition of the field. It's so tough out there. We just had the wrong tire in qualifying, but we were fast in practice, so we knew we were going to be fast in the race. We had a plan going in to get off (pit stop) sequence, and it worked out beautifully for us."
Castroneves chased Briscoe through the final laps of the race, as the teammates trailed only Justin Wilson and Power. "All the top five guys were so close," Castroneves said. "I was just trying to be consistent and push Ryan. We're just trying to move forward and keep getting points, which is important for the championship."
The finish left Castroneves sixth in the series point standings with 54 points while Briscoe is now ranked seventh in the championship chase with 51 points.
Power, who won the season opener March 14 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, leads the IZOD IndyCar standings after two races with 103 points. His closest competitor has 59 points.
"Obviously, it was a great result overall for Team Penske," said Tim Cindric, Penske Racing President. "Will has really come out of the box well in the Verizon car. To have three out of the top four spots puts us in a good position to challenge for the championship early on in the season. But we have to take it one race at a time and continue to execute on days like today, when opportunities are there."
The IndyCar Series season resumes on Sunday, April 11 with the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.