Power Surges to Back-to-Back Wins with Long Beach Wins
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Will Power, who started the 38th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in Row 6 because of a penalty assessed on all 11 Chevrolet-powered cars for unapproved engine changes, overcame the deficit by stretching 18.5 gallons of E85 the last 21 laps on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit, all the while being chased down by Simon Pagenaud.
It was Team Penske's first Indy car victory at Long Beach since 2001 (Helio Castroneves), while Power won the Champ Car finale on the course in 2008 with KV Racing Technology.
Pagenaud, who pitted the No. 77 Honda-powered car for the final time on Lap 70 of 85, finished 0.8675 of a second back. Over the final three laps, he ran lap times 1.5-2 seconds quicker than Power (1:10.4941 to 1:12.0333 for instance on Lap 84).
Pagenaud, who led laps for the first time since 2007 in Belgium, also gave Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports its highest finish since Jaques Lazier at Nashville in 2001 (as Sam Schmidt Motorsports). Seven different teams were represented in the top 10.
James Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car for Andretti Autosport, finished third as teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay incurred a 30-second penalty on the final lap for avoidable contact with the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car. It was his first podium finish in his IZOD IndyCar Series career. Sato, seeking his first IZOD IndyCar Series podium, finished eighth. Hunter-Reay checked in sixth.
Tony Kanaan, who started 19th, finished a season-best fourth and JR Hildebrand was fifth -- his best since placing fourth at Iowa last June.
Also on April 15, Esteban Guerrieri overtook Sunoco Pole Award winner Sebastian Saavedra in Turn 1 of Lap 1 on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit and went on to his first Firestone Indy Lights victory of 2012 by 1.5989 seconds.
It was the fourth career victory (11th top-five finish in 17 races) for the 27-year-old Argentinian.
Picking up two bonus points for leading the most laps, Guerrieri heads to the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway three points behind Saavedra (130) in the championship standings. Tristan Vautier, the points leader entering the race, was credited with third place and has 128 points.
Vautier joined the duo in Victory Circle because of a 30-second penalty assessed the No. 2 TMR-Tuvacol-Xtreme Coil Drilling car driven by Gustavo Yacaman for ignoring the instructions of Race Control. The car lost one of its mirrors with about 15 laps left in the 45-lap race, and the driver was called to pit lane to replace it (a rule). However, the team didn't have a replacement mirror and he continued.
DAY 3 NOTEBOOK:
Does James Hinchcliffe even own a razor? We'll find out in Brazil in two weeks.
"Well, I may or may not have foolishly made a bet with Wade Cunningham and the bet was my first podium I had to show up to the next race with a completely clean-shaven face, and that's not happened since about 2004," said Hinchcliffe, who recorded his first IZOD IndyCar Series podium finish in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
"So I guess in Brazil you're going to be seeing baby face Hinch show up, and I'm not thrilled about that."
Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car for Andretti Autosport, started 16th in the 85-lap race on the 1.968-mile street course because of the 10-grid spot penalty assessed to all Chevrolet-powered teams for unapproved engine changes. His third place was at the expense of teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, who incurred a 30-second penalty for avoidable contact with the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car of Takuma Sato on the final lap.
Still, it was a spirited drive for the 2011 Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
"It was a bit of an eventful race; I know from my seat it was certainly exciting," said Hinchcliffe, whose finish followed fourth- and sixth-place finishes in the first two races of the season. "I bet it was from the outside, too. It's cool to see some exciting racing back in IndyCar.
"It came down to the Andretti guys making the best calls on the pit stand. They've been doing that week in and week out this season. It's cool to have such a great team behind you supporting you and making those right decisions because that's what makes IndyCar racing so cool is you can start 16th and still have a crack at this thing if you play the strategy right.
"The Go Daddy car was strong right up to the end. I think my fastest lap was the second-to-last lap of the race. Didn't quite have enough to catch Simon (Pagenaud) and Will (Power), so congrats to them. Hopefully it's not the last time I get a trophy in this series."
Newgarden has short day: Josef Newgarden wasn't feeling any added pressure from starting on the front row in his third IZOD IndyCar Series race.
But his race was short-lived as the Honda-powered No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car clipped the tire barrier as he attempted to slip past Dario Franchitti's car on the right side in Turn 1 of Lap 1.
"I felt like I got alongside him, I gave him the inside lane and I just got touched there on the exit and went right into the wall," said Newgarden, who qualified seventh and started second when all 11 Chevrolet-powered entries were penalized 10 grid spots for unapproved engine changes.
"Maybe it wasn't the right move. The plan was if he was braking alongside of me I would have just give him the lane and tuck right in, but I thought I had a good run on him and a good jump on him, so you know it's one of the those tough breaks."
Barrichello records second consecutive top 10: Rubens Barrichello had his second top-10 finish in three IZOD IndyCar Series races.
"Once we knew we were going to be short (on fuel), I started to push hard," he said. "I would just like people to have more respect for each other on the track. I was hit on every side of my car. Apart from that, I enjoyed myself today. To start so far back (22nd) and finish in the top 10 again shows I am getting better and better, so hopefully I will have my best result two weeks from now in Brazil."
Jakes just misses top 10: James Jakes was running fourth when the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing shot to the runoff of Turn 1 on Lap 67. He lost three spots but the time he got the Dallara car pointed in the right direction.
"Lots of positives for the weekend," said Jakes, who finished 11th after placing 26th and 16th in the first two races. "I made a mistake going into Turn 1 and that cost me probably a top 10 finish today. They did a great job giving me a very good car today to race. We will take the momentum of this weekend into Brazil in two weeks."
Gordon to compete in Pikes Peak climb: Beccy Gordon, wife of Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, will drive the electric-powered Mitsubishi race car in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on July 8.
"I am very excited to be part of this challenge and also to drive a 100 percent electric-powered car since this type of vehicle will likely play a major role in both our daily transportation and motorsports in the future," said Gordon, who has racing experience.
Of note: Seven different teams were represented in the top 10 ... Firestone Indy Lights teams will participate in an Open Test on April 17 at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in preparation for the first oval race of the season May 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Both series will close the season at Auto Club Speedway in mid-September. ... The rainstorm that impacted the afternoon practice April 13 was the first time since 2004 that it rained on a Long Beach race weekend. ... Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, who earned the pole but started 11th because of the engine change-out penalty, finished seventh.