Will Power has taken his second IndyCar win of the 2011 championship season, crossing the finishing line in a rain-affected and postponed Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300.
After the race was halted after just fourteen laps running on Sunday, the balance of the race was completed on Monday morning, with the race resuming in the order that had been in place under the final red flag of Sunday’s abortive attempt.
This meant that Power – who had survived the carnage of yesterday’s halted race – would start ahead of Penske team-mate Ryan Briscoe, while KV Racing’s Takuma Sato and Ganassi driver Graham Rahal would start from the second row.
Conditions had improved dramatically from the day before when the track opened, but incredibly more rain would suddenly hit the circuit just as the green flag was waved, forcing the entire field back into the pits for a change on to wet tyres.
Power had managed to skip into a lead that he hoped he could hold for the remainder of the race, which was capped at just over a two-hour time limit, including the time spent racing the day before.
With the race’s total distance being dramatically reduced, this allowed some teams to take the gamble of a non-stop race – on the proviso that more full-course cautions would help them save enough fuel to get to the end of the race.
Sato was one such driver who opted for this strategy, and he had quickly moved up to second place after a few laps in green flag conditions. Also joining him on this line of thinking was his team-mate EJ Viso, and Marco Andretti in the Andretti Autosports entry.
A yellow flag period duly came about twenty laps in – caused by incidents for Bourdais and Hunter-Reay – and Sato was able to overtake Power when the race restarted.
Power would later pit, and behind the race leader, Viso and Andretti enjoyed a good battle for second place, although the Venezuelan was later handed a drive-through penalty for blocking the American.
But with no more major caution periods, Sato’s hopes of a non-stop race went up in smoke, and he and Andretti were forced to pit with just ten minutes of the race remaining, allowing Power to resume a lead he would not surrender. The Australian duly won from Graham Rahal and his compatriot Ryan Briscoe.
Fourth place went to Dario Franchitti, who could well be pleased with the result after pitting for a new front wing when he went off at Turn 1. The Scot loses the championship lead to Power once again.
Fifth place went to Newman/Haas’ Oriol Servià – again continuing his outstanding form on his return to IndyCar racing, while Mike Conway put his Sunday electrical problems behind him to charge to sixth place after starting a lowly 20th.
One of many drivers to spin in the slippery conditions, Justin Wilson finished seventh, while Takuma Sato took eighth place after being forced to surrender the lead and the chance of an unexpected race win. Sometimes race wins are born out of an outstanding strategy call or through riding a lot of luck along the way. Sato took his chance and it didn’t work this time, but his stock has certainly risen.
2011 Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 – Final Standings (55 laps):
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske||55||2:04:05.2964|
|2.||Graham Rahal||Chip Ganassi Racing||55||+ 4.6723|
|3.||Ryan Briscoe||Team Penske||55||+ 7.9037|
|4.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi Racing||55||+ 10.1470|
|5.||Oriol Servià||Newman/Haas Racing||55||+ 15.8188|
|6.||Mike Conway||Andretti Autosport||55||+ 16.6775|
|7.||Justin Wilson||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||55||+ 20.0131|
|8.||Takuma Sato||KV Racing Technology Lotus||55||+ 23.0683|
|9.||James Hinchcliffe||Newman/Haas Racing||55||+ 25.2924|
|10.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||55||+ 31.3172|
|11.||Sebastian Saavedra||Conquest Racing||55||+ 36.4261|
|12.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||54||+ 42.1974|
|13.||EJ Viso||KV Racing Technology Lotus||55||+ 45.8226|
|14.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||55||+ 1:14.5634|
|15.||James Jakes||Dale Coyne Racing||55||+ 1:16.2783|
|16.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||54||1 lap behind|
|17.||Vitor Meira||AJ Foyt Enterprises||53||2 laps behind|
|18.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||50||5 laps behind|
|19.||Alex Tagliani||Sam Schmidt Motorsports||48||7 laps behind|
|20.||Simona di Silvestro||HVM Racing||46||9 laps behind|
|21.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||46||9 laps behind|
|22.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology Lotus||46||9 laps behind|
|23.||Danica Patrick||Andretti Autosport||46||9 laps behind|
|Ana Beatriz||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||31||Mechanical|
|Raphael Matos||AFS Racing||28||Contact|
|Sébastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing||20||Contact|
[All images and video via IZOD IndyCar Series]