Power doubles up with St. Petersburg win
30 March 2010
Will Power held off Justin Wilson by 0.8244 of a second to win the rain-delayed Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Monday and remain perfect through the first two IZOD IndyCar Series races of 2010.
The sixth Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was postponed 18 hours because of more than four inches of rain that overwhelmed the temporary street circuit March 28 and, in conjunction with lightning, created unsafe conditions for race participants and ticket holders.
Power took the lead on lap 73 of the 100-lap race when E.J. Viso slowed with a gearbox problem and then resisted Wilson's #22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR car to the chequered flag. It was the third victory of his IZOD IndyCar Series career.
"It's just great. It's Verizon's first year, and we're out to win the championship," said Power. "Perfect pit stop, good race. Perfect weekend - pole and a win. Can't get much better than that."
"In that last stint, we were flat out," added Wilson, who had to settle for the runners-up spot. "We were pushing hard. Everyone on the Dreyer & Reinbold team did a great job on that last pit stop. From that point on, I was trying to put Will under some kind of pressure. I saw him get sideways a bit, but it wasn't enough."
Meanwhile, Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves filled out the top four. Briscoe, last year's race winner, gained 16 positions to finish third, the longest climb to the podium in this event's history.
"Qualifying was a mess for us. I think we underestimated the competition of the field," said Brisoce. "We just had the wrong tyre on in qualifying. We knew we had a good car for the race. We had a plan for the race. We were going to do the opposite of the leaders, go off-sequence, and it worked beautifully for us. It was tricky there when it was damp, but we kept all four wheels on the island. After Brazil, I was just telling myself to be calm out there."
Dario Franchitti, the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion, jumped from 11th in the final 11 laps to finish fifth, while Alex Tagliani gave start-up team FAZZT Race team its best finish of sixth and his personal best in the series.
"I had such a good start but made a bit of a mistake on the first lap. The car was quick enough to win this thing. We got a flat later in the race and had to come in. Between the flat tyre and me screwing up, it's not a bad day to finish fifth," Franchitti reflected.
Danica Patrick scored her best road/street course finish of seventh since Long Beach (fourth) in '09. Raphael Matos, the third-place finisher in Brazil on March 14, checked in at eighth, and Graham Rahal advanced from the 16th starting spot to ninth in the #67 Dollar General car for Sarah Fisher Racing.
Tony Kanaan's string of five top-five St. Pete finishes ended, but he was tenth in the #11 Team 7-Eleven car ahead of Andretti Autosport team-mates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti in eleventh and twelfth. Andretti led early on but faded as the race went on.
"The Venom car started the race really strong, but then unfortunately we caught a cut tyre," Marco explained. "Track position is really important here and we had great position, but the cut tyre caused us to lose that. That was really the turning point for us, but at the same time I can't say we had the best-handling car on the track. We were looking good for a while. Things just didn't go our way."
Mario Romancini was the top rookie and finished 13th in his second race in the #34 Conquest Racing car, while NHLR's Hideki Mutoh and Vitor Meira rounded out the top 15.
"I am really happy with how we finished the race today," said Romancini. "We weren't sure how wet the track conditions would be, so we decided to run a medium setup. We had to start the race on slicks, making it a bit more difficult for me, but I stayed out of trouble and finished the race, which was most important for me."
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series now continues with the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday, April 11 at Barber Motorsports Park.