Simon Pagenaud breathed life into his Verizon IndyCar Series title defence by taking his first oval victory at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night as Penske and Chevrolet dominated proceedings.

Starting fifth, Pagenaud managed to perfect his fuel strategy to go longer and faster than his rivals over each stint to hit the front of the pack just past half-distance, before leading the final 113 laps en route to his first win of the season.

The 2016 IndyCar champion headed up a Penske one-two as team-mate Will Power bounced back from a run of bad luck to finish second, ending the race nine seconds down on Pagenaud at the flag.

JR Hildebrand enjoyed a successful return from injury, finishing third for Ed Carpenter Racing as he collected his best result since his second-place finish at the 2011 Indianapolis 500.

Helio Castroneves finished fourth for Penske, with Scott Dixon ending the race as the top Honda-powered driver, one lap down in fifth for Chip Ganassi Racing. Team-mate Tony Kanaan followed in sixth.

Ed Carpenter rallied from a poor qualifying to finish his first race of the year in seventh ahead of Charlie Kimball and Josef Newgarden, while Carlos Munoz rounded out the top 10 for Foyt.

Andretti Autosport had a night to forget as incidents caused Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti all to retire. Andretti was caught up in a first-lap clash that eliminated five cars including previous points leader Sebastien Bourdais.

Pagenaud's win sees him return to the top of the championship standings, running 18 points clear of Dixon.



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