Josef Newgarden, who started third in the No. 11 Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, led teammate Conor Daly across the finish line by 0.8552 of a second to win in his Firestone Indy Lights debut.
"I don't know what to say, I am so happy for everyone else," said Newgarden, who is the ninth driver to win their initial Firestone Indy Lights race. "This is way beyond me. It takes the efforts of the entire team that worked so hard over the winter to make this win happen. I am so happy for Sam Schmidt and proud to be driving for him and give him a victory.
"Sam is a remarkable man and what kid wouldn't want to do this. I feel so blessed and happy to be here with the team and have these remarkable partners around me. This is a dream come true."
Peter Dempsey, who started fifth but jump to the point for the first 11 laps in the No. Pulse/O2 Racing car, finished third and David Ostella advanced seven positions to finish fourth in the No. 16 Global Precast Team Jensen entry.
Anders Krohn moved up two positions to finish sixth in the No. 9 Liberty Engineering Special for Belardi Auto Racing.
Newgarden overtook Dempsey in Turn 5 of lap 12 and completed the lap 1.2578 seconds ahead of polesitter and teammate Esteban Guerrieri. The the pole sitter, driving the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, ran second through the latter of quick back-to-back full-course caution periods on lap 43. But he dropped to seventh as he was forced wide in Turn 1 on the restart in the 45-lap race.
"It was a really good race until the last two laps," Guerrieri said. "We were lapping great, really consistent. I didn't want to make any mistakes. I was trying to push on the restart and we got to the first corner very close with other cars and I missed my braking point a little bit. That was my mistake."
Daly, the 2010 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear champion who won the race on the St. Pete course last March, wasn't able to mount an attack following the second restart.
"It is great to race here again and a good day for Sam Schmidt Motorsports," he said. "We had really fast race cars and were running 1-2-3 until that restart. Unfortunately, on that initial start I was just in the wrong gear. It was my mistake, and next time I will be able to learn from it. It was unfortunate for us there, but it is also good to know that we can make passes happen in this car.
"It was a valuable experience for me if I ever have to get into a dog fight situation again. The last restart was epic and Esteban went straight down the inside and he saw I was coming and he was trying to make a move on Josef as well. I could tell that it was basically an ice rink on the inside of the track as there was dust flying everywhere.
"Me and Josef haven't raced together since 2008 and we always seem to end up together on the podium as 1-2 one way or another. It was a great day for the entire Mazda Road to Indy team."
Pos. (#) Driver, Laps, Status
1. (3) Josef Newgarden, 45, Running
2. (2) Conor Daly, 45, Running
3. (5) Peter Dempsey, 45, Running
4. (11) David Ostella, 45, Running
5. (8) Anders Krohn, 45, Running
6. (1) Esteban Guerrieri, 45, Running
7. (16) Mikael Grenier, 45, Running
8. (14) Duarte Ferreira, 45, Running
9. (12) Victor Carbone, 45, Running
10. (10) James Winslow, 44, Running
11. (15) Jorge Goncalvez, 44, Running
12. (13) Juan Pablo Garcia, 44, Running
13. (9) Joel Miller, 40, Contact
14. (6) Gustavo Yacaman, 37, Contact
15. (7) Victor Garcia, 37, Running
16. (4) Stefan Wilson, 22, Running