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Castroneves unstoppable in St Pete opener

Their success along with Castroneves' win meant that three of the top four were Chevrolet-powered cars, confirming that the bow tie brigade have the edge at this early stage of the new era of engine competition in the series. But broadening that out to the top ten it becomes a somewhat more balanced picture six Chevys to four Hondas.

Perhaps the biggest shock was that reigning champion Dario Franchitti was not among those four in the top ten: you had to look all the way down to 13th place to find the Scotsman, and it came down to running short of gas at the very end.

"It was a tough day for the Target Honda," said Franchitti. "We ran out of fuel leaving that last corner. You have those times where it's close and you get across the start-finish line, and sometimes you don't.

"We didn't have the best day in the Target Honda today overall, but we'll do some work and be back strong in Barber," he added, looking ahead to this coming weekend's race in Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park.

Franchitti's arch rival in 2011, Penske's Will Power, was ruing the lost opportunity of a pole position start that had yielded only seventh place by the chequered flag. Power had actually had a good start and pulled out a near-three second lead over team mate and fellow front-row starter Ryan Briscoe by lap 10, but then gambled on an early opportunistic pit stop under a yellow flag on lap 11 for Katherine Legge's Lotus Dragon Racing car stalling on the front straight.

Power was joined by around half the field including Franchitti, while Briscoe, Hunter-Reay, Dixon, Hinchcliffe and Castroneves all stayed out at the front. Power immediately tried to make up some of the lost positions, but ran wide in turn 5 trying to make a move on James Jakes that instead lost him a bunch of places and left him down in 17th place.

"We just got shuffled back a bit there after the first pit stop and we just couldn't make up the ground we needed," Power explained. "It was very tough to pass. We were able to gain some track position toward the end and it's good to finish seventh."

Ironically, a few minutes later Jakes ran wide himself and into the tyre wall at turn 10 to bring out the second caution of the afternoon on lap 19, and the only retirement of the day that was put down to 'contact'.

"I'm not really sure what happened, but my brakes seemed to glaze over on me going into turn 10, and I couldn't make the turn, which left me nowhere to go, but into the tire barriers, said Jakes. "It wasn't the start to the season that the #19 Boy Scouts of America Honda team was looking for," the British driver now in his second season of IndyCar competition added.

Dixon took the lead when Briscoe was among those to put under the caution for Jakes' accident, with Hunter-Reay, Castroneves and Hinchcliffe also opting to stay out on track with him and make the 100 lap race into a two-stopper. It was to prove the right strategy, setting the membership of the top four for the end of the race.




Related Pictures

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Helio Castroneves in the #3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet during pre-season testing at Sebring. March 2012. [Photo Credit: Michael Levitt - LAT for IndyCar Media]
Helio Castroneves celebrates victory in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 25 2012, and salutes Dan Wheldon. [Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA (c) 2012, Scott LePage. LAT Photo]
James Davison on track on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda in pit lane on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda on track on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti and Sage Karam at IMS (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe at IMS (Photo by: Walter Kuhn)
James Hinchcliffe during practice prior to Qualifying for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (Photo by: Leigh Spargur)
James Hinchcliffe at IMS (Photo by: Mike Harding)
James Hinchcliffe at IMS (Photo by: Jim Haines)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start on the outside of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pagenaud will be joined in the front row by by polestar Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest for the May 24 race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start in the middle of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Power will be joined in the front row by pole sitter Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates after qualifying fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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Don - Unregistered

March 28, 2012 4:01 PM

It was a very entertaining race. Congrats to Helio, loved the tribute at Dan Wheldon way. It will be very interesting to see how Rubens qualifys at Barber. He should feel right at home at that beautiful road course.



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