The opening race for the 2013 IndyCar season in St Petersburg couldn’t have gone any better for the series. The popular and talented James Hinchcliffe scored his first career victory, while teammate Marco Andretti joined him on the podium in third place. Castroneves couldn’t quite chase down James, and became the meat in the Andretti sandwich, finishing second.
On a restart with 26 laps to go, Castroneves overshot turn one, and Hinchcliffe took the race lead. With no caution laps the rest of the way, James was able to hold off the competition on his black tires, while the others were on the reds. Andretti finally got around Simona on the final lap to secure the second podium spot for Andretti. Simona was up front all day but battled an extremely loose car all the way to the end.
Early on it looked as though Power was going to dominate from the pole. By lap 18, he already had an 11-second lead over second place. Things changed quickly though, as Franchitti slammed into the outside wall on cold tires after making a pit stop. He nearly collected Dixon, his teammate, which would have put the exclamation point on Ganaassi’s dismal weekend.
Dario wasn’t the only one with bad luck on Sunday. Many drivers suffered electrical issues throughout the day, including Hunter-Reay, the defending series champion. Ryan’s throttle was sticking, which ultimately ended his chances of a good finish. SPM teammates Simon Pagenaud and rookie Tristan Vautier also had mechanical issues. It was an especially tough break for Vautier, as he was in the top five all day long. It was a phenomenal drive by the young Frenchman in his first career IndyCar race.
One of the strangest things you’ll see in a race happened on lap 82. Under a full-course caution, Hildebrand went up and over the right side of Power’s car. Hildebrand’s day was done, while Power had to pit twice to make repairs. JR said he was getting prepared for the restart, when the field slowed up in front of him. He took 100% blame for the incident, but Power had to restart in 16th, then lost a rear tire late in the race that sent him spinning into the tire barrier.
This was the first win for a Canadian driver since Paul Tracy won a race in Champ Car back in 2007. It was a great day for KV Racing, as both cars finished in the top six. Dixon rallied from a 20th starting position to finish fifth. Viso, Sato, Wilson, and Tagliani rounded out the top ten. Power finished 16th, Hunter-Reay 18th, and Franchitti 25th.
The next stop for the IndyCar Series comes in two weeks. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama can be seen at 3 pm ET, April 7 on NBC Sports Network.