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Opening round joy for Cristiano.

Behind Minassian in the final points-scoring position was a lacklustre Max Papis who only scored a point when Scott Dixon, Bryan Herta, Michel Jourdain Jr and Adrian Fernandez hit late race problems. Dixon led the race between laps 22 and 38 on his CART debut as he, Fernandez and Herta tried a different fuel strategy to the leaders and chose not to pit with the rest of the field on lap 21 after Moreno had brought out the caution. Both Herta and Fernandez surrendered their second and third spots to Brack shortly after the re-start on lap 29 but Dixon resolutely stuck to his guns in the PacWest Racing Reynard-Toyota until making his stop on lap 38.

The 20-year old New Zealander took the final re-start in tenth but was forced to back off in the final laps as his tank ran dry, eventually finishing 13th and one place away from a Championship point. Herta came home 16th after a precautionary late stop while Fernandez, who held almost God-like status amongst the 150,000 fans that crammed their way into the stands on race-day, sadly retired his self-owned Reynard-Honda from 12th place three laps from home when he ran out of fuel.

Fellow Mexican Jourdain Jr in the Herdez Bettenhausen Lola-Ford should have inherited what would have been a tremendously popular 12th place in the absence of Dixon, Heart and Fernandez only to find himself running out of fuel and eventually dropping to 17th, the last car on the lead lap.

Of those who failed to finish, Zanardi eventually called it a day after an uncharacteristic drive that included contact with Junqueira, Andretti and Shinji Nakano while both Player's/Forsythe Reynard-Ford's suffered engine failures while running in top ten positions.

The Fed-Ex teams now have almost a month to prepare for the next round of the series around the streets of Long Beach on April 8th and although there is still a loooong way to go, you can bet that Da Matta and the rest of the Newman-Haas team will be cherishing what is by now a rather familiar feeling, leading the points table after the opening round. The question is, can they sustain it?



Related Pictures

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Cristiano Da Matta, Newman-Haas Racing, Lola-Toyota
Will Power (center), driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 with second-place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya (left), driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet, and Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Huggies Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. Power has the driver championship points lead heading into the final two races of the season.  (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. Power has the driver championship points lead heading into the final two races of the season.  (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 17, 2014 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin. Power has the driver championship points lead heading into the final two races of the season.  (Photo by Lesley Ann Miller/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a sixth-place finish Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. The finish was good enough for Power to retake the drivers points championship lead from teammate Helio Castroneves. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon (right), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. Sebastien Bourdais (left), driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finished second. It`s Dixon`s first victory of the season. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. It`s Dixon`s first victory of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. It`s Dixon`s first victory of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon and the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing team celebrate victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course on Sunday August 3 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates with his family after winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, August 2, 2014 for Sunday`s IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio, (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais with his son after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
The red flag is waived halting attempts to start Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto on Saturday. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway and Team Owner Ed Carpenter celebrate victory in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais gets a congratulatory hug from team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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