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Huertas Wins First Race of Houston Doubleheader

Carlos Huertas might have been the most surprised person at NRG Park at 4:50 p.m. (Central) time.

The 23-year-old Verizon IndyCar Series rookie won Race 1 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers under caution for his first victory. Juan Pablo Montoya finished second and rookie Carlos Munoz placed third to complete a Colombia podium, and the day was made complete as Colombia won its FIFA World Cup knockout game.

Huertas' previous best finish was eighth in the opening round of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit a month ago. He is the seventh different winner in nine races.

"The kid has been getting better all year and he showed a lot today," said team owner Dale Coyne, who picked up his first victory since June 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway with driver Justin Wilson.

Huertas, who led the final seven laps (his first of the season) after Wilson had to pit for fuel, started 19th in the race that was scheduled for 90 laps but was ruled a timed race (1 hours, 50 minutes) because of rain that delayed the standing start.

"The races are so long, you always have a chance to win if you do the right things at the right time," said Huertas, who went a field-high 39 laps on one set of Firestone tires and 18.5 gallons of E85 to close out the 80 laps. "Today was really tough. I was really struggling. I had no pace in the first half of the race. But I reminded myself just to stay calm and do what you have to do and I did that.

"The team called it perfectly with the fuel, and it’s a great day.”

Sebastien Bourdais, who won on the temporary street circuit in 2006 and '07, placed a season-best fourth. Championship leader Will Power, who started 18th in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, slid into the Turn 9 tires on Lap 58 to bring out the caution flag. He finished 14th and, combined with teammate Helio Castroneves' ninth place, takes a 33-point lead into Race 2 on June 29.

Qualifications for Race 2 (10 a.m. ET June 29)

Real-time Timing & Scoring, augmented by the IMS Radio Network broadcast, will be available on IndyCar.com. All cars shall participate in one of two groups for 12 minutes each.

Group 1 shall contain all cars in the odd-numbered positions on the combined practice times sheet (Simon Pagenaud the quickest).

Group 2 shall contain all cars in the even-numbered positions on the combined times sheet (Will Power the quickest).

The Verizon P1 Award will be awarded to the best overall lap time in the qualifying sessions. The remainder of the cars in that group will be ranked in the odd-numbered positions. Even-numbered starting positions will be determined from the other group, starting with position two.

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Huertas Wins First Race of Houston Doubleheader
 
Huertas Wins First Race of Houston Doubleheader
The 23-year-old Verizon IndyCar Series rookie won Race 1 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers under caution for his first victory. Juan Pablo Montoya finished second and rookie Carlos Munoz placed third to complete a Colombia podium, and the day was made complete as Colombia won its FIFA World Cup knockout game.
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