May 10, 2014, 7:46 PM EST
A series of mid-race cautions ultimately caused Jack Hawksworth to fade to a seventh-place finish in today’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – a result that does not fully represent how strong the Verizon IndyCar Series rookie was in regards to pace.
After starting on the front row, Hawksworth passed Hunter-Reay for the lead shortly after the field went back to green following the ill-fated standing start.
But instead of the American veteran reeling him back in, Hawksworth pulled away and kept the point through after the first cycle of green-flag pit stops around the Lap 25-30 range.
By the halfway point, Hawksworth was leading the race by four seconds before the caution came out at Lap 42 for Scott Dixon getting turned around after a battle with Will Power.
While Hawksworth and eventual race winner Simon Pagenaud went in for service, Hunter-Reay chose to stay out and inherited the lead.
Hawksworth restarted ninth but the aforementioned mid-race incidents – which included a crash involving Martin Plowman and Franck Montagny with 34 laps left and another involving Graham Rahal on the subsequent restart – forced the team to try and make strategy work for them.
That didn’t happen, but Hawksworth still was able to garner his first Top-10 finish in the IndyCars after pacing 31 of 82 laps and setting the second-fastest lap of the Grand Prix.
“We got into the lead at the beginning, opened up a gap and we were controlling the race pretty well from what I could see,” he said in a post-race statement. “I felt like we had it all under control and then we got a bit hosed from that yellow.
“The strategy calls were a bit tricky but overall, the car was great to drive. The team gave me a great car all day. We certainly deserved, on pace, a better result than what we got there but we gave it our all.
“We fought back and at least we got the points for seventh place. The pace is there so we’ll come back and try to get after it again.”
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