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Castroneves unstoppable in St Pete opener

"Obviously we're still investigating and I think having the in-car camera will help too," he pointed out. "We've never had that until now, so it's important, but those problems happen and we expect it. It's a new car, new engine, unfortunately it happened to us."

His 'brother' and newly-minted team mate Rubens Barrichello was also hit by a technical issue right at the end of the race.

"Unfortunately we had a meter reading problem so I ran out of fuel at the end," he said of his 17th-place finish in his series début in IndyCar. "I enjoyed the race and dicing with other cars, but would have liked to have been able to push more. It has been a good learning experience this weekend and I look forward to being back in the car in a few days for the next race."

HVM's Simona de Silvestro dropped out of the race early with fuel pressure problems, while Takuma Sato's first run for Rahal Letterman Lanigan was thwarted on lap 22 with gear shifting issues. "I am so disappointed that we had a mechanical failure and couldn't get the resulted we worked hard for. It was encouraging though," said Sato. "I was comfortable. I really enjoyed racing today, battling through the field to come up to the front."

AJ Foyt's Mike Conway - who had displayed impressive pace over the weekend - exited the race on the next lap with his own gearbox-related issues. "I lost third gear and then fourth so it was a struggle to stay out of people's way so I pulled in," he explained afterwards. "It's too bad because everyone on the ABC Supply team did a good job this weekend. We just have to keep learning about this car and keep pushing. We'll get there."

Panther's JR Hildebrand was the last retirement of the day, pulling off on lap 96 on the inside of turn 1, agonisingly close to finishing in a strong eighth place. "In that last stint we passed Dario, Marco and were going to be able to easily get by Will and Simon for a potential top five, he said, admitting that it was frustrating that "we don't have anything on a piece of paper to show how well we performed today."

But at the end of the day, seeing 26 cars take the green flag on time at St Petersburg and make it through the notorious turn 1 without a single incident was little short of a minor miracle, one that shouldn't be too blithely overlooked or taken for granted. That Lotus-powered cars were among them - and made a great showing, with Bourdais up to sixth at one point - is nearly off the "we didn't see them pulling that one off" register.

As a racing spectacle it will get better, for sure. But as starts of new eras go, that wasn't half bad.

Full times and results:
Race results
Sunday warm-up
Starting grid
Qualifying times
Saturday practice
Friday practice 2
Friday practice 1

See also:
Power leads Chevy whitewash in qualifying
New DW12 off to fast start at St Petersburg

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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]
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson [credit: Chris Owens]
Carlos Munoz celebrates his first IndyCar pole at Texas Motor Speedway
Sebastian Bourdais (KVSH Racing) celebrates in Detroit   [image creid: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Sebastian Bourdais - KVSH Racing   [image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport [credit: Walter Kuhn]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson [Credit: IndyCar]
James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson [Credit: Jim Haines/IndyCar]
Marco Andretti - Andretti Autosport [credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske Chevrolet [credit: IndyCar/Bret Kelly]

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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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