(ST PETERSBURG, FL) – Will Power made a statement in the Verizon IndyCar Series opening race that will resound throughout the season.
Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, won the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for the second time since 2010. He’s also won the past three races bridging seasons, and has led at least 16 laps in the past six races. He has registered 22 victories in 122 Indy car starts, but has yet to win a series championship.
"I’m stoked to get the first win for Verizon as a series sponsor," said Power, who started fourth after earning the pole the previous four years. "That’s how you want to start the season. Last year was horrible, and this year it’s good to get a points lead."
Power held off Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 driver champion, in a 22-lap sprint following a restart to prevail by 1.9475 seconds. Hunter-Reay overtook Power’s teammate, Helio Castroneves, in Turn 1 on Lap 88 for second. Castroneves, a three-time winner on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit and the runner-up in 2013, placed third. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s second matches his best finish at St. Petersburg in 2009. Castroneves won his third-straight podium finish here in St. Petersburg, after winning in 2012.
Scott Dixon, the reigning series champion, finished fourth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car and Simon Pagenaud garnered a top five in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car. Dixon’s fourth is his fifth top-five finish in 10 starts at St. Petersburg, while Pagenaud had his first top-five finish in three starts at St. Petersburg.
"Overall we had a good race. Historically we haven’t had the best start to the season here at St. Pete,” said Dixon. “But the crowd was great and I’m really impressed with the turnout today here. And the Target team bringing two cars home without any damage to start off our year is a small win. We’re looking forward to improving and heading to Long Beach in a few weeks."
Takuma Sato, the pole sitter who led the first 30 laps of the 110-lap race under a cloudless sky, finished one place behind sixth-place Tony Kanaan.
The race was caution-free under the yellow flag flew for the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing car driven by Charlie Kimball sliding off course in Turn 1. On the Lap 82 single-file restart, the cars of Marco Andretti and Jack Hawksworth made contact, bringing out a second full-course caution.
Seven different teams were represented in the top 10.
Will Power won his first race of 2014 and the 22nd race of his Indy car career. He has won the last three Indy car races after winning at Houston-2 and Auto Club Speedway in 2013.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Winners average speed: 93.572mph
- Time of Race: 02:06:57.6288
- Margin of victory: 1.9475 seconds
- Cautions: 2 for 10 laps
- Lead changes: 7 among four drivers
- Sato 1 – 26
- Castroneves 27 – 28
- Sato 29 – 30
- Power 31 – 52
- Sato 53 – 57
- Power 58 – 76
- Conway 77
- Power 78 – 110
Verizon IndyCar Series Point Standings: Power 53, Hunter-Reay 40, Castroneves 36, Dixon 32, Pagenaud 30, Kanaan 28, Sato 28, Wilson 24, Newgarden 22, Briscoe 20.