Monday, March 29, 2010

Will Power Finds the Motion in Delayed Grand Prix of St Petersburg

Photo Credit: Chris Jones

Demonstrating some stewing aggression as the green flag dropped, the Honda engines of 24 IZOD IndyCar Series cars awoke at 10AM Monday for the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg after hard rain silenced the mechanical race beasts on the scheduled Sunday.

As the field took the green, the postponed event set course for a 100 laps distance around the 1.8 mile St Petersburg temporary street course. However, the racing action the first lap as Dario Franchitti and Mike Conway spun through turn 2 drawing the caution

Early on in the start of the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg, race hungry drivers were eager to lead the event. With the Penske Racing #12 of Will Power benefiting from the pole position, a charge from Marco Andretti allowed the Andretti Autosport car to lead on lap 5. The young Andretti's lead would be short-lived as the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing of Scott Dixon overhauled the #26 Venom Energy car one lap later.

Putting a damper to a fine race, Marco Andretti suffered a punctured tire after lap 31 restart. The time loss getting back to pit road as well as the track position given up on a pit stop dropped Andretti from contention for victory. Marco Andretti would bring his #26 Andretti Autosport car past the finish lane 12th at the end behind teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay.

A spinning #4 National Guard Panther Racing car of Dan Wheldon on lap 46 collected #32 KV Racing Technology's Mario Moraes rendering both drivers out of the event listed 20th and 21st in the final race standings. While some blamed Wheldon for the accident, Panther Racing personnel conveyed that a right rear suspension problem was actually the culprit of the #4 car's spin.

At the point of this third full-course caution, Ryan Briscoe led after Dario Franchitti brief 3 laps on 1st place. The Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing #06 Hideki Mutoh was running a strong 2nd place behind Ryan Briscoe. While that position was lost through a pit stop during the full-course caution, Mutoh's run would be spoiled later in the St Petersburg race by stalling the #06 car on a future pit service. Finishing on the lead lap, 14th place was the result of the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing backup car driven by the 3rd year IndyCar Japanese driver.

As the race neared a climax, Will Power found his way back to the front in his Penske Racing #12 car leading 45 of the final 51 laps to take victory at Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg. Following Power was the Z-Line Designs-sponsored #22 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing machine driven by Justin Wilson. Both Power and Wilson were aided with track position as their vehicles required one fewer pit stop than the rest of the field.

With Australian Will Power making the most of his first full season with Penske Racing, the prestigious race team enjoyed a strong effort overall. Ryan Briscoe, who started the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg in 19th place, vastly improved on his qualifying effort with a 3rd place run. Rounding out the new look black and white Penske cars, Helio Castroneves 4th place allowed the team colours to be shown in 3 of the top-4 finishing spots.

Overcoming first lap difficulties, Scot Dario Franchitti rounds out the top-5 for the Cottonelle-backed #10 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing car. Scott Dixon in the #9 team car would not see the end of the St Petersburg race as the Target car ended lap 73 in the turn 9 wall.

Having also playing the same strategy game as Power and Wilson, IZOD IndyCar's leading lady Danica Patrick emerged from deep in the starting field for a Andretti Autosport team best finish of 7th place.

Stepping away from the established race organizations of the IZOD IndyCar Series, younger teams FAZZT Race Team and Sarah Fisher Racing also recorded some positive results. Coming home 6th at Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg is the #77 of Alex Tagliani. Just missing out on a top-5 finish with a handful of laps remaining, Tagliani and the first year FAZZT Race Team ran competitively throughout the event. Sarah Fisher Racing's #67 car of Graham Rahal came 9th across the lane in the team's first outing for 2010. Gaining 7 positions over his qualifying run, Rahal's run was not entirely clean. On the same lap that Scott Dixon retired, Rahal and #78 HVM Racing's Simona de Silvestro made contact. Spun out, de Silvestro received the worst end of the contact but was still able to finish the race 16th overall.

Taking a one-race break from the temporary street circuits, 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and teams prepare for their

2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix of St Peterburg Final Results

1. 12 Will Power/Australia Penske Racing
2. 22 Justin Wilson/England Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
3. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia Penske Racing
4. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil Penske Racing
5. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
6. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada FAZZT Race Team
7. 7 Danica Patrick/United States Andretti Autosport
8. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports
9. Graham Rahal/United States Sarah Fisher Racing
10. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil Andretti Autosport
11. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States Andretti Autosport
12. 26 Marco Andretti/United States Andretti Autosport
13. 34 Mario Romancini/Brazil Conquest Racing
14. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
15. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil AJ Foyt Enterprises
16. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
17. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela KV Racing Technology
18. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
19. 24 Mike Conway/England Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
20. 4 Dan Wheldon/England Panther Racing
21. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil KV Racing Technology
22. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan KV Racing Technology
23. 19 Alex Lloyd/England Dale Coyne Racing
24. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela Dale Coyne Racing

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