Will Power took his third straight IZOD IndyCar Series win with his victory in a chaotic race around the streets of Sao Paulo.
The Penske driver started from pole and looked in control for most of the afternoon, although he was forced to withstand a number of restarts due to a string of accidents behind him.
The last of these came with just a handful of laps remaining, forcing him to defend against Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) in the final dash for the flag. The margin of victory was 0.9sec.
"Ryan got a really good jump," related Power. "I knew I just had to go like you wouldn't believe through the first complex of corners, because I knew he could get a run on me. Ryan is one of the hardest guys you will ever race; he never gives up.”
Added Hunter-Reay: "I really, really challenged him on the outside. I thought that was my time to do it there on the restart because he was getting such a great exit out of so many corners. Jumped it a little bit there and tried to get him, but he had that inside.”
Dario Franchitti (Ganassi) had been on target for third but struggled to get heat into his tires for the final restart, allowing Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) to pass him for his first IndyCar podium finish. Helio Castroneves (Penske) also managed to pass Franchitti, leaving the Scot to finish fifth.
Still, from Franchitti's perspective this was a decent piece of damage limitation, considering that he had been one of several drivers to be caught up in accidents on restarts when he was pitched backward over the Turn 1 curbs midway through the race. That dropped him to 20th, but he was able to get himself back toward the front of the field through a combination of a judiciously timed visit to the pits and some good overtaking moves.
"We got hit on that restart and spun out but we kept fighting – and it was a great job by the Target boys on pit lane," said Franchitti. "It just didn't work out today. We were up there and didn't get the mileage we needed. We almost got back up to the front but the last two restarts weren't the best for us."
Crowd favorite Rubens Barrichello placed 10th, but was bemused after losing out on a possible top-five spot by the timing of the yellows, which allowed several competitors that were in the back of the field to pit out of sequence for fuel and thus make up valuable track position on the KV Racing driver.
"When you are in 16th place and at the end of the race you gain six positions, you have to feel better," reckoned Barrichello. "However, I have to say I did not understand the race. I was running third or fourth and all of a sudden I was 17th! We did have a few problems with the pit stops, but strategy was such a big factor this afternoon.
"In fact, when I saw Dario after the race I asked him when you should spin so that you can come in and take fuel..."
While plenty of drivers ended the race with battle scars, none suffered more than Ganassi's Scott Dixon. The Kiwi was the only driver to pass Power during the race, but he did so knowing that he still needed to stop for a splash of fuel. He had built up a 3sec lead when he did so, only to lose positions under a yellow that immediately followed, and then get bottled up behind an accident on the restart. Dixon eventually crossed the line in 17th place.
Results - 75 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Will Power Penske DW12-Chevy 2h08m18.2816s
2. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti DW12-Chevy + 0.9045s
3. Takuma Sato Rahal DW12-Honda + 2.3905s
4. Helio Castroneves Penske DW12-Chevy + 4.5489s
5. Dario Franchitti Ganassi DW12-Honda + 5.1722s
6. James Hinchcliffe Andretti DW12-Chevy + 6.2615s
7. JR Hildebrand Panther DW12-Chevy + 8.3764s
8. Charlie Kimball Ganassi DW12-Honda + 8.5905s
9. EJ Viso KV DW12-Chevy + 10.3449s
10. Rubens Barrichello KV DW12-Chevy + 10.8477s
11. Oriol Servia Dreyer & Reinbold DW12-Lotus + 24.4771s
12. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt DW12-Honda + 1 lap
13. Tony Kanaan KV DW12-Chevy + 1 lap
14. Marco Andretti Andretti DW12-Chevy + 1 lap
15. James Jakes Dale Coyne DW12-Honda + 1 lap
16. Graham Rahal Ganassi DW12-Honda + 1 lap
17. Scott Dixon Ganassi DW12-Honda + 1 lap
18. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon DW12-Lotus + 1 lap
19. Mike Conway Foyt DW12-Honda + 2 laps
20. Ana Beatriz Andretti DW12-Chevy + 2 laps
21. Ed Carpenter Carpenter DW12-Chevy + 3 laps
Justin Wilson Dale Coyne DW12-Honda 66 laps
Josef Newgarden Fisher DW12-Honda 61 laps
Simona de Silvestro HVM DW12-Lotus 28 laps
Ryan Briscoe Penske DW12-Chevy 21 laps
Katherine Legge Dragon DW12-Lotus 20 laps