By Amy Konrath
SAO PAULO (Monday, May 02, 2011) -Takuma Sato came up 10 minutes short of potentially claiming his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory. Will Power said “obrigado.”
Power, the pole sitter and re-start leader of the rain-postponed Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle, came into the pits for a splash of fuel on Lap 36. Sato, who overtook Power on a Lap 25 restart, gambled on stretching the 22 gallons of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol. But the yellow flag sought didn’t materialize and the No. 5 KV Racing Technology-Lotus car had to pit on Lap 48 of 55 in the timed race.
Power inherited the point and went on to his second victory of the season and the championship points lead.
“Being on pole four times and had two wins is a great start,” said Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. “It was a matter of keeping calm, getting past people without making any mistakes and then creating a gap to be safe.”
Graham Rahal, who spun on the slippery rain-soaked course on Lap 26 while running sixth, finished second (his best since placing third at Twin Ring Motegi in 2009) in the No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing car. Ryan Briscoe recorded his second consecutive top five (third) in the No. 6 Penske Logistics car.
Dario Franchitti also recovered from a slide in Turn 1 on Lap 33 to finish fourth. Oriol Servia was fifth, Mike Conway made up a lap to finish sixth and Justin Wilson was seventh. Sato wound up eighth.
Poor visibility on the 2.536-mile, 11-turn street course caused by persistent rain and approaching dusk forced postponement of the race until 8:05 a.m. (ET). The scheduled 75-lap race resumed on Lap 15. There was 1 hour, 19 minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the two-hour race window. The previous IZOD IndyCar Series race postponed because of weather was in March 2010 at St. Petersburg, Fla. — won by Power.
ITAIPAVA SAO PAULO INDY 300 PRESENTED BY NESTLE POST-RACE NOTES:
* This is Will Power’s second win of 2011 and the 11th win of his Indy car career. He also won at Barber Motorsports Park earlier this year.
* Will Power won in Sao Paulo for the second consecutive season.
* Graham Rahal finished second, his best finish of 2011 and his best finish since finishing third at Twin Ring Motegi in 2009.
* Ryan Briscoe finished third, his second consecutive podium finish. He finished second at Long Beach on April 17.
* Dario Franchitti finished fourth. He is the only driver to finish in the top-five in every race in 2011.
* Oriol Servia finished fifth, his second top-five of the season.
* Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates James Hinchcliffe (9th) and JR Hildebrand (10th) finished in the top 10. It is Hinchcliffe’s second-straight top 10 and Hildebrand’s career-best finish.
ITAIPAVA SAO PAULO INDY 300 PRESENTED BY NESTLE POST-RACE QUOTES:
WILL POWER, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske (Winner, Sao Paulo Indy 300): “Being on pole four times and had two wins is a great start. It was a matter of keeping calm, getting past people without making any mistakes and then creating a gap to be safe.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No . 38 Service Central, finished second): “It was kind of the same thing as St. Pete when I won in ’08. That year, Will hit me and I spun, and because of that we got off sequence. Today, we were lucky that we were quick enough at the end and we were able to keep up with Will but not let Ryan close in. We had to save a lot of fuel. I’m really proud of the Service Central guys.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Logistics, finished third): “It was good strategy. We kept our nose clean. There was certainly a lot of havoc going on around me during a lot of the race. At the end, I got passed Dario (Franchitti) going into the hairpin. I was trying to catch (Graham) Rahal, but we were doing about the same lap time. We didn’t change wets on the last stop but we had slightly fresher tires. I was sort of hanging on a bit. It’s a great day for Team Penske.
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Kellogg’s, finished fourth): “After me making a mistake on the restart, I’m very proud of my Target guys for the front wing change and getting us back out there. We came out of this with a fourth-place result so I’ll take it.”
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): “It wasn’t the weekend we expected. After we crashed, it became an exercise in patience. It was hard with cars all around you because it is so instinctive to race. You have to swallow your pride, brake early and let people by. It was a Buddhist exercise. I finished 17th, and I’m the top-finishing Brazilian? Not a good day for the Brazilians.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): “We were hoping for another yellow flag today. We figured in the rain it’s so easy to make a mistake. But the quality of drivers now is awesome, no mistakes were made and we went green the last bit. I guess at the time the strategy made sense. After a bit of a rollercoaster of a weekend – my teammates kicked my butt in qualifying, we were able to pass some cars yesterday in the rain – it would have been nice to capitalize but for right now I think myself and the Venom team are coming ready for Indy.”
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): “It was a really long day today for the GoDaddy car. We started today so far back and so many laps down and we knew we weren’t in contention. So our only job today was to kind of run our own race; get laps in, don’t crash, don’t spin. We did what we could and just tried to gain all the spots we could for points.”
MIKE CONWAY (No 27 Window World Cares finished 6th): “It was a good result overall for the Window World Cares car. We ended up in sixth place and got a few points. It was difficult though; we had to try and stay out of trouble, there was so much going on in every corner and it was so slippery out there. But good job to the team and some good calls were made. We managed to make our way up to sixth – we started 20th so I’m pretty happy with that.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): “We basically just held position today; we needed a lot of attrition and we didn’t get it. It’s a shame because we had a great weekend coming into this race. The DHL/Sun Drop car was strong and it didn’t pan out for us. Now we’ll look ahead to Indy and hopefully a big breakthrough.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “It was just mayhem out there. I’m not sure if I got touched or just hit the curb when I spun near the end of the race. Not the result we wanted for the Target car today.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): “It was impossible to race yesterday so it was the only decision they could make. Although we all thought there would be too much rain to race today too, the organizers were right to push it because we were able to race and put a show on for the fans. I think it was a good show; it was difficult like every rain race. There were a couple of times when the visibility was really bad. When we started luckily there was the first yellow because it came out when we were on the back straight and that was where the visibility was the worst. Luckily it got better after that. We decided to go with the least amount of downforce we had the whole weekend on the Telemundo car because we were hoping the race was going to be dry. We were wrong there but the car was good enough that we were able to stay out of trouble, get by a couple of cars, never get passed, move forward with no mistakes, had good pits stops and finish fifth. We were third on our strategy without the guys that made mistakes and pitted earlier than the rest getting a break with a yellow and finishing ahead of us. That’s the way it goes though and we’re going to be the one who gets the lucky yellow some time. I’m very pleased with the outcome of the weekend, especially with the way it started. I’m very happy to be third in the points and to continue gaining momentum going into Indy – the most important race of the year. The Telemundo team has high hopes.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, No. 06 Sprott Newman Haas Racing): “Yesterday’s decision was the only decision they could make. The conditions were treacherous. Someone was going to get hurt and a lot of equipment was going to get crashed. It was a tough call and I feel bad for all the fans that came out and all the fans watching on TV that hung around during the delay and ultimately didn’t get to see the race. Then it started raining on the pace lap today so that made it an interesting first few corners before everyone dove into the pits for tires. The first stint we really struggled with rear grip for some reason and fell back a couple of places and really didn’t know what we were going to do. We came in for the pit stop and we opted for tires and some guys didn’t and we made the right call. We were a lot more competitive in the second half. It was really about keeping up and even trying to get around Justin there at the end. We got another top-ten and were the top rookie so we are relatively pleased. It was an easy day to make mistakes and a lot of guys did and we came out without any. We would have like to have been higher but at the end of the day we came away with four wheels on the car and a top-ten finish so we can’t be too upset. We have had two good finishes in a row now and the confidence is high for the Sprott team. It’s going to be my first oval in an Indy car and it’s going to be the biggest race of the year so it’s a lot to take in but we are heading there with good momentum. Newman/Haas Racing always has good cars at the Speedway and we have a big Sprott contingent coming down so we’re really excited to host them for a race and hope to give them a great result.”
The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live at noon (ET) by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is Firestone Freedom 100 on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It will be televised live by VERSUS.