Skip to content

Will Power opens IndyCar season with St. Pete win

Mar 30, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Getty Images

Will Power clearly had the car to beat in today’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and the Team Penske pilot made it count en route to taking the checkered flag in the season-opening race for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

Power took the lead from pole sitter Takuma Sato with an outside pass in Turn 1 on Lap 31, and basically never looked back on the way to not only his second career win in St. Pete but also the fourth win in his last six races dating back to last season.

The Australian ended the 2013 season on a tear with wins last fall at Sonoma, Race 2 of the Houston doubleheader, and the season finale at Fontana. That late-season surge made him a title pick of many observers going into 2014, and he’s living up to the billing so far.

However, Power’s win didn’t come without controversy. After an extended caution, Power was set to lead the field to a restart with 28 laps remaining. But instead of accelerating, Power appeared to slow down.

The field proceeded to stack up behind him, and in the process, Jack Hawksworth tagged another car from behind before skidding into the inside wall of the frontstretch, collecting Marco Andretti.

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Marco’s team owner and father, Michael Andretti, put the blame on Power, while Team Penske’s Tim Cindric said that Power told him the green flag had been thrown earlier than he expected.

Additionally, TV replays showed that Power had not yet reached the restart cone when the field began to stack up.

After the cleanup, Power held the lead on the next restart with 23 laps to go. Ryan Hunter-Reay managed to get past Helio Castroneves for second in Turn 1, but the American was unable to reel in Power during the closing laps and finished 1.9 seconds back. Castroneves settled for third and the last spot on the podium.

In Victory Lane, Power re-iterated his claim that the green had been thrown early on him.

“I thought we were meant to go in that [restart zone],” he explained to ESPN’s Jamie Little. “So, I was surprised. I don’t even know what happened behind me! What happened?”

When Little explained the accident that occurred between Hawksworth and Andretti, Power responded: “I lifted a little. I didn’t touch the break at all. You can take a look at my data – I did not touch the brake.”

As for what his peers thought about the matter, opinions were mixed. Notably, Power’s teammate Castroneves thought that things were “a little strange” on the first restart.

“[Power] was being very tricky for sure, and I understand,” said Castroneves. “It was too slow on the first one and on the second one, obviously, he played a little bit. I got hung out to dry and Hunter-Reay took advantage of it [for second].”

However, defending series champion Scott Dixon, who finished fourth, believed the ill-fated restart wasn’t Power’s fault.

“I don’t think Will did anything wrong – they moved the restart zone late this morning in warmup, so I think he was probably a little slow, if anything,” Dixon said.

“But I think sometimes, it’s just people being too greedy, man. They’ve got to come down hard on that so nobody tries to take advantage by jumping a few spots early on.”

Simon Pagenaud, also a trendy choice for the 2014 championship, came home fifth ahead of Tony Kanaan, who finished sixth in his first race for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

Sato converted his pole into a Top-10 finish with a seventh, and was followed by Justin Wilson in eighth, Josef Newgarden in ninth (after starting last on the grid), and Ryan Briscoe in 10th.

As for former Indianapolis 500 and CART champion Juan Pablo Montoya‘s return to open-wheel racing, it was not an altogether pleasant one.

Montoya, who is coming off a seven-year run in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, was not a factor during the 110-lap race and finished 15th in a day he’ll likely chalk up as a learning experience.

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action on Sunday, April 13 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. You can watch it live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra starting at 4 p.m. ET.

FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG
Unofficial Results

1. 12-Will Power
2. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay
3. 3-Helio Castroneves

4. 9-Scott Dixon
5. 77-Simon Pagenaud
6. 10-Tony Kanaan
7. 14-Takuma Sato
8. 19-Justin Wilson
9. 67-Josef Newgarden
10. 8-Ryan Briscoe
11. 17-Sebastian Saavedra
12. 7-Mikhail Aleshin (R)
13. 11-Sebastien Bourdais
14. 15-Graham Rahal
15. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya
16. 20-Mike Conway
17. 34-Carlos Munoz (R)
18. 18-Carlos Huertas (R)
19. 27-James Hinchcliffe, one lap down
20. 83-Charlie Kimball, two laps down
21. 98-Jack Hawksworth (R), Lap 83, Contact
22. 25-Marco Andretti, Lap 82, Contact

Latest Posts
  1. Andretti to field No. 25 car at Sonoma; Oriol Servia to drive Wilson tribute car

    Aug 27, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

    ServiaRLLreturn Getty Images

    Oriol Servia will race in what was Justin Wilson’s car this weekend at Sonoma.

  2. IndyCars cross the Golden Gate Bridge; pay tribute to Justin Wilson (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

    Aug 27, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    IndyCars cross the Golden Gate Bridge in a motorcade, for pre-title buildup and to pay tribute to Justin Wilson.

  3. Aleshin geared up ahead of IndyCar return at Sonoma

    Aug 27, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    TORONTO - JULY 18:  Mikhail Aleshin of Russia driver of the #7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara Honda during practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Toronto on July 18, 2014, in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Aleshin returns to IndyCar this weekend after a year away.

  4. Special liveries, Wilson tribute stickers set for IndyCar’s Sonoma season finale

    Aug 27, 2015, 3:14 PM EDT

    BadAssWilsonlogo

    All cars to carry special tribute logos, decals for Justin Wilson this weekend, with Wilson’s old team also paying tribute.

  5. Win or bust for Rahal at Sonoma in chase for IndyCar title

    Aug 27, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    rahal Getty Images

    Rahal out to claim his third win of the season at Sonoma, believing it will be the only way to beat Juan Pablo Montoya to the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series title.

  6. Report: Chilton in F1 talks with Haas, but remains unsure about chances

    Aug 27, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 12:  Max Chilton of Great Britain and Marussia speaks with members of the media during the Russian Formula One Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom on October 12, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Max Chilton has two years of F1 experience under his belt, but believes Ferrari will have a big say in who Haas hires for 2016.

  7. Vettel: One-stop strategy at Spa was never risky

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    vettel Getty Images

    Vettel defends Ferrari’s decision to try a one-stop strategy at Spa after suffering a tire failure on the penultimate lap of the race.

  8. Fast Facts: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

    Aug 27, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT

    SonomaCrash AP

    Fast facts heading into this weekend’s season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.

  9. Rossi: GP2 victory in Belgium “perfect timing”

    Aug 27, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Victory at Spa gives Rossi momentum heading into the final four rounds of the 2015 season, and potentially in the race for a seat with Haas F1 Team next season.

  10. Porsche extends LMP1 commitment by three more years

    Aug 27, 2015, 8:36 AM EDT

    The Porsche 919 Hybrid No19 of the Porsche Team driven by Nico Hulkenberg of Germany, Earl Bamber of New Zealand and Nick Tandy of Great Britain crosses the finish line to win the 83rd 24-hour Le Mans endurance race ahead of the Porsche 919 Hybrid No17 driven by Timo Bernhard of Germany, Marck Webber of Australia and Brendon Hartley of New Zealand, in Le Mans, western France, Sunday, June 14, 2015. (AP Photo/David Vincent) AP

    Off the back of winning Le Mans, Porsche confirms it will stay in the FIA World Endurance Championship for at least another three years.

  11. NHRA: Pro Stock driver Erica Enders hitting on all cylinders heading into U.S. Nationals

    Aug 26, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT

    Erica Enders (Photo courtesy NHRA) Erica Enders (Photo courtesy NHRA)

    Just in time for the biggest race in drag racing, next weekend’s (Sept. 2-7) NHRA U.S. Nationals, Erica Enders is back where she wants to be: leading the NHRA Pro Stock point standings.

  12. IndyCar championship winning scenarios for six finalists

    Aug 26, 2015, 6:06 PM EDT

    go pro indy car logo 2015

    Double the amount of base points, in addition to bonus points, could have a major impact on who emerges as the 2015 IndyCar Series champion Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.

  13. IndyCar: After Pocono DNFs from contact, mechanical failures, teams need to rebuild ahead of Sonoma

    Aug 26, 2015, 3:52 PM EDT

    pocono raceway logo

    This past Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 Verizon IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway proved to be a very costly proposition for numerous teams.

  14. ABC Supply 500 post-event infractions, manufacturer championship points update

    Aug 26, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    INDYCAR announced on Wednesday several infractions and manufacturer championship points updates following this past Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

  15. IndyCar flashback: Justin Wilson finishes second, Will Power/Scott Dixon controversy at Sonoma 2013 (video)

    Aug 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Day 2 Getty Images

    There will likely be heavy hearts, tears and a great deal of emotion at this weekend’s season-ending Go-Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma, as the mourning for driver Justin Wilson continues.

  16. Six remaining IndyCar championship contenders to be busy in the days leading up to big race at Sonoma

    Aug 26, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT

    indycar logo

    The six remaining Verizon IndyCar Series contenders will be pretty busy over the next few days prior to Sunday’s championship-deciding Go-Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

  17. Remembering Justin Wilson (VIDEO)

    Aug 25, 2015, 5:57 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Allmendinger, Castroneves, Diffey and more reflect on the life lived by Justin Wilson.

  18. WATCH LIVE: Justin Wilson remembered on Tuesday’s NASCAR AMERICA at 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN

    Aug 25, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT

    Justin Wilson AP

    Tribute to Justin Wilson set to air on Tuesday night’s NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN.

  19. Brother Stefan Wilson confirms Justin Wilson was an organ donor

    Aug 25, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Day 1 Getty Images

    Justin Wilson saves six lives with organ donation, his brother confirms.

  20. Formula E: Prost concludes Donington test on top; Andretti set for powertrain revert

    Aug 25, 2015, 1:57 PM EDT

    © FIA Formula E © FIA Formula E

    Prost leads while Andretti FE makes powertrain switch to cap off Formula E testing at Donington Park.