Will Power’s dominant win in the opening round of the Verzion IndyCar Series may have made a statement to the rest of the field that he is “in it to win it” in 2014.Will 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 that bridge the end of the season to the beginning of the next, and has led at least 16 laps in the past six races. To date, he has amassed 22 victories in 122 Indy car starts, however, a series championship has eluded him so far. With a dominant victory like he had yesterday, maybe this is his year.
“I’m stoked to get the first win for Verizon as a series sponsor,” said Power, who started fourth after earning the pole the previous four years. “That’s how you want to start the season. Last year was horrible, and this year it’s good to get a points lead.”
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. The restart was a questionable one as Power led the field to the line at what appeared to be off the normal starting pace. The cars behind him anticipated a faster start and bunched up, causing the Andretti, Hawksworth crash.
Seven different teams were represented in the top 10.