March 30, 2014 | By Verizon IndyCar Series
Power Prevails in Verizon IndyCar Series Season Opener
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 pretty tired; mentally tired. Stocked to get the first win for Verizon as a series sponsor," said Power, who started fourth after earning the pole the previous four years. "We executed well."
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.
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. 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.
Power earned the two bonus points for leading the most laps. He gained the lead initially by overtaking Sato in Turn 2.
Seven different teams were represented in the top 10. Justin Wilson placed eighth in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing entry, while Josef Newgarden, who started 22nd but was second quick in the morning warm-up, gained 13 positions. Ryan Briscoe, returning to Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, was 10th.
Mikhail Aleshin led the five drivers who were making their Verizon IndyCar Series debuts on the St. Petersburg circuit with a 12th place in the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car.