IndyCar Race Review: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Christopher Leone@ChristopherlionSenior Analyst IMarch 31, 2010

ST PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 29:  Will Power of Australia, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara Honda celebrates with the trophy after winning the IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 29, 2010 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Making it two for two in 2010, Will Power won the rain-delayed Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the second event on the 2010 Izod IndyCar Series schedule. It was his third career IndyCar win—all of which have come with the mighty Team Penske, and all of which have come on street courses.

The race was run on a Monday after standing water on Sunday prevented the race from being run safely. The rain delay affected many businesses in the area, keeping them shut down for an extra day. Emergency scheduling meant that the event had to be run in the morning.

Power had taken pole in qualifying, and he started the race alongside Tony Kanaan. It was no surprise, as Power dominated all three practice sessions before qualifying, posting the fastest lap in all three. Of 10 drivers to post top-five laps in the three sessions, Power was the only one to post such a hot lap in all three.

Unlike last year, the race went off to a clean start through the first turn, but separate incidents involving Mike Conway and Dario Franchitti put the race under caution.

Marco Andretti, desperate to make up for a disastrous turn at Brazil and driving like a bat out of hell, took the lead from Power on Lap Five with a daring move. But Scott Dixon usurped the point on the very next lap, holding it until Lap 27. Dixon's race, however, ended on Lap 74, when he put his car in the Turn Nine wall.

Takuma Sato hit a tire barrier with his new Lotus car on Lap 25, after complaining for the previous five laps that his left front was no longer in order.

It was just one part of an overall bad day for KV Racing Technology; Mario Moraes, after causing a logjam behind him by refusing to yield his lapped car, had his day ended by an out-of-control Dan Wheldon after 46 laps, and E.J. Viso, after briefly leading, lost his gearbox late in the race and fell three laps down.

Conway also had a strong run ended when a daring move in the fifth turn went awry. Trying to follow another car past Raphael Matos for position, Conway attempted to force the Brazilian onto the curb from the outside. Instead, Matos refused to yield too much, causing Conway to bounce over Matos' wheel and send himself into the fence. Matos wound up eighth.

Vitor Meira led a good chunk of the race while on an alternate pit strategy, as he was one of the few drivers to start the race on the standard black-sidewall tires. His 12 laps led were third-most of all drivers, as eight took turns at the point. Unfortunately for Meira, his strategy put him at the back of the pack when it counted—and he wound up a disappointing 15th, the last car on the lead lap.

The race also marked the return to IndyCar of American Graham Rahal, whose search for a ride this offseason was torpedoed by a lack of sponsorship. Cleaning up for Sarah Fisher in her own car, he finished ninth, but he turned rookie darling Simona de Silvestro in the first turn late in the race, spoiling her solid run. De Silvestro finished 16th, one lap down.

Also on the podium were Justin Wilson and Ryan Briscoe, Power's teammate at Team Penske. Briscoe partially redeemed himself for a stupid error that cost him the win in Brazil, and Wilson repeated his podium finish at St. Pete last year. However, it was the first time in three starts that Wilson did not lead a lap at the track, as he led 18 circuits in 2008 and 52 last year.

Power will head to Barber Motorsports Park with a 44-point lead over Franchitti, Wilson, and Ryan Hunter-Reay. In a stroke of luck, none of the other drivers who finished in the top five in Brazil was any better than eighth in St. Petersburg.

Meanwhile, the best Brazil finish for a driver who finished fifth or better in St. Pete was seventh.


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