James Hinchcliffe has taken the meaning of Feast or Famine to a whole new level. The Canadian put an exclamation point on what was an incredible finish in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Hinchcliffe made an amazing move on Takuma Sato on the final turn of the final lap to win Sunday’s race. In the four races this season, James has two wins and two 26th place finishes. All four Andretti Autosport drivers finished in the top 11.
The final seven laps featured an incredible duel between Hinchcliffe, Sato, Josef Newgarden, and Marco Andretti. Sato appeared to block both Newgarden and Hinchcliffe in the closing laps, but IndyCar did not issue a penalty. It looked as though Takuma slid his ABC Supply Honda a little too deep into the final turn, allowing James to make the move below him to take the win. A second straight win would have been the first for the team since 1978.
Marco joined James and Takuma on the podium, his second of the 2013 season. Oriol Servia and Newgarden rounded out the top five with phenomenal drives. Despite the tough loss, Sato takes over the championship points lead heading into Indianapolis. Marco continues his rebound season, sitting in second place.
Will Power entered the weekend trying to win his fourth straight race in Sao Paulo. Instead, it was a weekend to forget for the Aussie. After waiting too long to qualify on Saturday, he had to start 22nd. He had worked his way up to 11th by lap 19, but then his car caught fire. He finished the race in 24th, and his championship hopes took another huge hit.
The only drivers to ever win four straight races at the same track are AJ Foyt, Rick Mears, Al Unser Jr, Mario Andretti, and Bobby Rahal. Power will not join them, and he has quite an uphill battle to get back into the championship hunt. Helping his cause though, was an 18th place finish for Scott Dixon due to mechanical issues.
Power’s teammate Helio Castroneves also started the race in the back, and had similar luck. On one restart he went off course, and spun out on another one. On lap 40 he was involved in an accident with four other cars. He fought his way back to finish 13th on Sunday, and dropped from 1st to 3rd in the championship standings.
Graham Rahal had a fast car, leading the final practice session before the race. He was making his way towards the front, but his day went downhill from there. He made contact with Power twice, then got into the back of his teammate James Jakes on a restart. Finally, he went into turn 1 too hot, locked up his wheels, and met the wall in turn 2, finishing 22nd.
Tony Kanaan started in row 2 and had a promising run going. He took the lead on lap 9, sending the hometown crowd into an absolute fury. He ran up front all day before running out of fuel on lap 52. He was making his 200th consecutive start, despite having a torn tendon in his hand. It was not a good day for the three Brazilian drivers in Sao Paulo.
The next race on the IndyCar schedule is the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. Opening Day at the Speedway is this Saturday, May 11. I will be there each day, covering the day’s events from the garage area and pit lane.