CLICK: Full race 1 results

Dale Coyne Racing's Carlos Huertas became a first-time IndyCar race winner on Saturday, and the seventh different winner in the nine races of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series so far, after a rain-hit race allowed the team to devise a fuel strategy that put him at the front of the field as the minutes counted down to the chequered flag.

It was a fantastic result for Colombia as not only did Juan Pablo Montoya cross the line in second place, but a third compatriot joined them on the podium after Carlos Munoz was promoted a place when Graham Rahal was handed a 30-second penalty post-race for causing a late collision. That left the paddock with a certain sense of shock and awe as the three amigos celebrated in victory lane, leaving others including Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe wondering where and how it had all gone wrong.

The key to answering that question lay in an intense storm shower that had passed over the area in the hour before the race. While the rain had stopped by the time the race was due to start the track nonetheless remained drenched. Race control duly declared a wet race, obligating the field to use wet weather tyres; as a trade-off, the normal rules about using both prime and option slicks was now moot, and the scheduled 90-lap race distance was replaced instead by a one hour, 50 minute time cap.

However the standing start did go ahead rather against expectations, and somewhat miraculously there were no incidents when the lights went out save for Graham Rahal stalling near the back. Simon Pagenaud was able to shoot off from pole position, but despite having a clear track ahead of him he was clearly struggling with brake imbalance issues that caused him to overshoot multiple chicanes, resulting in a warning from race control.

As long as Helio Castroneves was in second place, the #77's problems didn't seem to be impacting Pagenaud's lead. However once Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe forced their way past the Penske #3 it was a different matter, and within four laps Sato was able to barge his way past the #77 and claim the lead for himself, pulling Hinchcliffe through with him into second place. Sato was set to disappear up the road, but then came across the unexpected problem of Marco Andretti's car exiting pit lane right in front of him following earlier contact with Andretti Autosport team mate Carlos Munoz. Try as he might, Sato couldn't get past Andretti and soon Hinchcliffe was reeling him back in. Andretti was eventually penalised for failing to obey blue flags by letting Sato pass, while Munoz also had a drive-thru for causing the original contact that had spun Andretti to set up the situation in the first place.

Also frustrated with progress was Will Power: having been consigned to 18th place on the grid after set-up problems in qualifying, the championship leader was finding it hard to make any progress on the track and so became the first driver to make a scheduled pit stop on lap 19 in the hope of gaining a strategic advantage instead. Also soon in and taking a risky gambit was Charlie Kimball who opted for a change to slick option tyres on lap 22 as the track started to develop a dry line. When the #83 didn't immediately fly off the track, more drivers started to follow his example as the first round of pit stops cycled through.

A lightning stop for Hinchcliffe put him back out on track ahead of Sato when the pair pitted together on lap 27. Justin Wilson and Sebastian Saavedra came in next time by just before the first caution came out for Mike Conway locking up on old slick tyres and sliding into the tyre wall in turn 3. Conway was able to resume after repairs, as was Mikhail Aleshin who had been involved in three separate incidents up to this point, including rear contact from Conway and a major tank-slapper that had put him nose-first into a concrete wall; despite damage to the front and rear wings, he was still able to continue after a brief visit to pit lane for running repairs. Saavedra had a similar accident under the yellow and also needed to limp back to pit lane, while Will Power joined him for his own second pit stop of the day as he was finally forced to fall into the party line on moving to slick tyres.

Hinchcliffe led the field to the green flag on lap 32 ahead of Sato, Castroneves, Wilson, Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay, with Pagenaud having dropped to seventh ahead of Luca Filippi after an earlier spin. However the green didn't last long before Sato tripped over the now-lapped car of Aleshin, sending them both into the wall at turn 6 and out of the race with the Japanese driver nursing a bruised right hand for his troubles. That incident set up a new restart attempt on lap 37 which was even shorter-lived than the last one, Hinchcliffe cited for jumping the green flag while further back Luca Filippi lost control coming out of turn 10 and ended up ricocheting from wall to wall down the frontstraight before he even reached the flag stand.

Finally the race got back underway on lap 42 with under 50 minutes remaining, Wilson losing out and dropping two spots to Bourdais and Hunter-Reay in the single-file restart. Bourdais then topped that move with an excellent pass on Castroneves for second; however, before Bourdais could line up a move on Hinchcliffe there was more trouble further back down the road as Scott Dixon hit standing water and aqua-planed off into the wall coming out of turn 10 on lap 48, which bounced him into the side of Pagenaud's car and then crunching across the front nose of his own team mate Charlie Kimball. The two Ganassi cars were out on the spot, while Pagenaud headed for pit lane to have the dents hammered out.

A brief encore from the rain did little to impair the dry line that the drivers had been cultivating all afternoon, and racing resumed on lap 53 with just over 30 minutes remaining. Put a wheel off that line however and there were pools of standing water ready to pounce and catch out the unwary, and the next driver to get caught out was none other than Will Power who spun into the tyre wall at turn 9 to bring out a new full course caution. The safety team got him refired, but the #12 was now off the lead lap.

The leaders took the opportunity to carry out their final round of pit stops under the caution, leaving Justin Wilson minding the store ahead of his Dale Coyne Racing team mate Carlos Huertas who was followed by Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastian Saavedra and Carlos Munoz; meanwhile Hinchcliffe had rejoined in ninth just ahead of Bourdais as the race restarted on lap 61 with a little over 20 minutes remaining. Montoya managed to pass Kanaan, which put the former F1 and NASCAR star in the box seat as the Dale Coyne Racing cars were both critical on fuel and sorely needed a further lengthy spell under the safety car if they were to make it to the finish without a splash-and-dash. None came in time for Wilson who was ordered in on lap 74, which dropped him to 14th place seven minutes before the scheduled end of the race.

While still on a knife edge fuel-wise, Huertas had a few more laps in hand over his team mate and duly stayed out to inherit the lead ahead of Montoya and Kanaan. Graham Rahal had just surged to fourth place ahead of Munoz and Bourdais when the caution that Huertas had been hoping for materialised on lap 77 in the form of Saavedra being spun into the tyre wall at the exit of turn four after a tap from Ryan Briscoe. Intent on the finishing the race under green if possible, officials quickly cleared up the #17 and set the scene for a one-lap shootout to the chequered flag.

It didn't happen: as the drivers tried to work heat into their tyres, Kanaan braked as Rahal behind him accelerated. There was contact which spun the Ganassi #10 around and stranding him in the middle of the track, forcing race control to duly abort the restart which allowed Huertas to follow the safety car round to the finish line to claim his maiden series win.

"The team did a great job and you always have a chance to win because the races are so competitive," said Huertas, who had managed to eke out 39 laps - almost half the final race distance - on that final tank of gas.

"The kid has been getting better all year and he showed a lot today," beamed team owner Dale Coyne, celebrating his team's first win since Justin Wilson clinched victory at Texas Motor Speedway in June 2012.

Huertas had finished just ahead of compatriot Juan Pablo Montoya, while a post-race penalty for Rahal meant the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver lost third place which was taken up instead by Carlos Munoz ahead of fourth-placed Sebastian Bourdais - making it a Colombian hat-trick chalked up at virtually the same moment that the national football squad was also emerging victorious over Uruguay in the first knockout round of the World Cup in Brazil.

Not a bad day's work, Colombia. Not bad at all. Now - what odds would you give for the same outcome in Sunday's second race of the weekend? Qualifying for race 2 takes place on Sunday morning at 10am local time (4pm BST) with the race itself at 2.45pm (8.45pm BST), shown live in the UK on ESPN.

Full race 1 results

 

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