The second race of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series is in the books. Both races have seen Scott Dixon finishing runner-up to a Penske driver. Last week it was Helio Castroneves, this week Will Power. After starting in ninth position because of some bad luck, Power made his way to the front, taking the lead from Dixon after he had issues on pit road.
Power’s teammate and winner of the first race here (Castroneves) completed the podium to give Team Penske a very nice day. Graham Rahal rebounded from a disappointing finish last week, just missing the podium coming home in fourth place. Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five. It’s been a great start to the season for him, after finishing in sixth last week.
James Hinchcliffe hung around the front of the field for most of the day and came home sixth. Mike Conway had a great day for AJ Foyt Racing, finishing in seventh. Rubens Barrichello got his first career top-ten finish as he came home eighth. Sebastien Bourdais wound up in ninth after some incredible passing all race long. Dario Franchitti’s struggles continued, as he made some late passes to finish in tenth.
In my Barber preview, I stated that Power would be “just fine” come race day. Anyone that thought he wouldn’t find his way to the front has never watched an IndyCar race. He was the fastest in practice, and won the race from pole position here last year. He got a break with Dixon’s pit mishap, but still cruised to a 3.4 second win.
While the people up front had continued success on Sunday, others kept their streak of bad luck going. Tony Kanaan had a shock problem on his KV Racing machine and finished in 21st. This comes after a battery problem that ended his day early last weekend. Justin Wilson had a late spin after handling issues all day long. He also had problems on Friday when a small fire did some damage to the rear of his machine.
Katherine Legge spun of course again this week and Takuma Sato had another mechanical problem that ended his day. He had been very quick before his problem. Alex Tagliani’s car came to a stop in the opening laps of the race. It was another tough break for the Canadian driver.
As far as the racing, it was very competitive. There were concerns before the weekend that it would be difficult to pass, but that wasn’t the case at all. Every lap we could see multiple passes taking place, and there were some great battles out on the track. Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato, EJ Viso, and Ryan Hunter-Reay provided plenty of breath-taking moments on the day.
There were not any bone-headed moves, not too much blocking, and some incredible moves by Sebastien Bourdais and Rubens Barrichello. The NBC Sports Network also did a phenomenal job of covering the race. The analysis, replays, and quick commercial breaks (with side-by-side) made for a great overall experience.
The next race on schedule is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach two weeks from today. The April 15 race is set to begin at 3:30 Eastern time. There will be plenty of action between now and then. Oval testing will be the main focus, as many teams will head to Texas, while some will be testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday.
Some teams will do testing at Sonoma and Fontana later in the week. The testing at IMS will give each owner one car to use, and will feature the new aero kits used at Indy and Fontana this year. The April 4 test will be a full day, with an hour of media coverage.
After today’s race, Helio sits two points ahead of Dixon in the Championship standings. Power is nine back, Hinchcliffe is 26 behind, and Pagenaud sits in fifth place just 28 points back.