IndyCar Series 2014
Honda-powered pole qualifier Takuma Sato led the first 29 laps of Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and Ryan Hunter-Reay challenged for the victory in the closing laps of the initial race of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series, but took the checkers in second, less than two seconds behind winner Will Power.
In a strong debut race for the new HI14RTT twin-turbocharged V6 engine, Honda-powered drivers claimed five of the top nine finishing positions, with Simon Pagenaud, Justin Wilson and Josef Newgarden all rebounding from troubled qualifying runs to join Hunter-Reay and Sato in the top 10 at the finish of 110 laps around the 1.8-mile coastal Florida street circuit.
Sato took command at the race start, eventually opening up a six-second lead over the 22-car field through the first segment of the race in his A.J. Foyt Racing Honda Dallara. But the popular Japanese driver lost ground after the first round of pit stops to finish seventh.
Meanwhile, Hunter-Reay’s performance improved throughout the race, as he battled Helio Castoneves for second place during the middle-third of the contest, then captured the position shortly after a Lap 84 restart. For the last 20 laps, Hunter-Reay traded quick lap times with leader Power, but was unable to mount a successful challenge for the victory.
After “missing the setup” and starting a disappointing 14th, Pagenaud’s race also came alive in the final half, as he passed both Sato and Tony Kanaan, among others, to claim fifth at the finish. Likewise, Wilson worked his way through the field to take the checkers eighth after starting 16th, while Newgarden made the biggest gains in the race, making up 13 positions to finish a strong ninth after starting 22nd.
The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series now heads cross-country to California for the Grand Prix of Long Beach, to be televised live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, April 13.
|1||Will Power (Team Penske)|
|2||Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport)|
|3||Helio Castroneves (Team Penske)|
|4||Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi)|
|5||Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt Peterson Hamilton)|
|6||Tony Kanaan (Target Chip Ganassi)|
|7||Takuma Sato (A.J. Foyt Racing)|
|8||Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing)|
|9||Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher Hartman)|
|10||Ryan Briscoe (Chip Ganassi Racing)|
|12||Mikhail Aleshin-R (Schmidt Peterson)|
|15||Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan)|
|17||Carlos Munoz-R (Andretti Autosport)|
|18||Carlos Huertas-R (Dale Coyne Racing)|
|19||James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport)|
|22||Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport)|