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. Joys of travel: Most of IndyCar community has to take red eyes back after Long Beach

    Apr 20, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    LAXredeye Getty Images

    The joys of return flights home from the West Coast for the IndyCar community..

  2. IndyCar notes: Andretti leads Honda contingent; Coletti quick but unlucky and more from Long Beach

    Apr 20, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    MA27lb Getty Images

    Another tough day at office for Honda, Newgarden comes up short of top-five and other tidbits from Long Beach.

  3. IndyCar: Saavedra cracks top-10 on debut with Ganassi at Long Beach

    Apr 20, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    LBw2w4 Getty Images

    Sebastian Saavedra has a clean, quiet, consistent weekend and ended P10 on debut for Ganassi.

  4. The saga of Coyne’s No. 18 at Long Beach: Moran’s lost debut leads to Daly’s long overdue chance

    Apr 20, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    It was a bizarre weekend for Dale Coyne’s No. 18, which saw one driver replaced before the weekend began, one injured before getting the chance to debut, and one finally getting a long overdue shot.

  5. Sir Patrick Stewart gave an awesome start command at Long Beach (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT

    Sir Patrick Stewart command AP

    Long Beach got off to a great start, courtesy of Patrick Stewart’s enthusiastic command to start engines.

  6. Hamilton may have won again, but it was Raikkonen and Rosberg who stood out in Bahrain

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Mideast Bahrain F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    It may have been a routine victory for Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain, but both Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen showed some of the fight that has been lacking in recent months.

  7. Arrivabene: Vettel cost Ferrari double podium in Bahrain

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Qualifying Getty Images

    Ferrari team principal believes two mistakes from the four-time world champion cost him a place on the podium in Bahrain.

  8. Bottas pleased to hang on for fourth place in Bahrain

    Apr 20, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain Getty Images

    A mistake by Sebastian Vettel allows Bottas to take fourth place on Sunday in Bahrain.

  9. Montoya, Castroneves riff on Penske quartet’s nationalities post-race at Long Beach

    Apr 19, 2015, 9:53 PM EDT

    JPMhelioLB Getty Images

    JPM, Helio laugh about the four nationalities represented at Team Penske.

  10. Dixon passes Bobby Unser for fifth on all-time list with 36th IndyCar win

    Apr 19, 2015, 7:41 PM EDT

    DixonBobby36 Getty Images

    Bobby Unser praises Scott Dixon, while Dixon himself downplays the accomplishment.

  11. MotoGP: Rossi wins in Argentina after Marquez clash

    Apr 19, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    MotoGp of Argentina - Qualifying Getty Images

    The nine-time world champion extends his lead at the top of the riders’ championship in MotoGP.

  12. Engine issue costs Maldonado shot at points finish

    Apr 19, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-BHR-F1 Getty Images

    Romain Grosjean manages to salvage some points for Lotus in Bahrain, finishing seventh.

  13. Jones makes it an Indy Lights hat trick with win in Long Beach

    Apr 19, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Photo: Carlin Media Photo: Carlin Media

    Ed Jones survives streets of Long Beach to win Round 3 for Indy Lights.

  14. Ricciardo finishes sixth in Bahrain despite suffering engine failure at the final turn

    Apr 19, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain Getty Images

    Ricciardo finishes the race in a blaze of glory, but holds on to sixth place for Red Bull.

  15. WATCH LIVE: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

    Apr 19, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    LBwatchlive Getty Images

    Watch the third round of the IndyCar season, from the streets of Long Beach, at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

  16. Vettel takes blame for causing front wing damage

    Apr 19, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain Getty Images

    German driver was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop towards the end of the race in Bahrain after running over the kerbs at the final corner.

  17. Button fails to start Bahrain GP, live tweets the race instead

    Apr 19, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-BHR-F1 Getty Images

    Another electrical problem for McLaren meant that Button was unable to line up on the grid for the race in Bahrain.

  18. WATCH: Indy Lights at Long Beach, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

    Apr 19, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    IndyLights

    Watch the third round of the Indy Lights season today at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.