IZOD IndyCar driver, WILL POWER/Team Penske, came from twelfth to win at the 38th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It was his seventeenth career victory and second win this season. This makes three poles and three victories in the first three IZOD IndyCar Series races for Team Penske in the 2012 season. Power now leads the standings with 127 points.
Power said “You can never say never, but it’s been a good weekend. We got a penalty (the ten grid position setback for a pre-race unauthorized engine change) and we overcome it. I’ve tried for four years (to win this race after having three pole positions), and finally made it. We had to do it (engine change). I was driving as quick as I could and saving fuel for Tim” – TIM CINDRIC, President Penske Performance Inc.
Runner-up was Rookie SIMON PAGENAUD/SCHMIDT/Schmidt Hamilton Racing Honda, who also led the most laps – 26. He said his team is focused on his car. His words: “We had less track time. It is what it is. I’m really happy with second. I thought there was a really good crowd out there.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/Andretti Autosports Chevrolet was third, his highest IndyCar finish. He said “Our strategy changed lap by lap.” He will be clean-shaven for Brazil due to a bet made that he would shave after his first podium. He’s happy to be on the podium, but not happy about being clean-shaven. He said the Long Beach track is pretty fun to drive and for the fans it’s a whole event.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY/Andretti Autosports Chevrolet finished third on the track, but was penalized thirty-seconds for avoidable contact with TAKUMA SATO/Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda, putting RHR back to sixth place finisher. He had led four laps.
Fourth and fifth were TONY KANAAN/JV Racing Technology and JR HILDEBRAND/Panther Racing Chevrolet.
Kanaan started nineteenth. “My race was really fun, I drove hard. After two DNF’s this year, it’s nice to finally finish this one. Now let’s go to Brazil – one of my favorite races.”
Hildebrand had his best IndyCar finish this season. He started twentieth – one of the eleven Chevrolet drivers penalized ten grid positions. He said “The team picked good strategy. We went with a two-stop and we had good pit stops.We’re just stoked to be able to come from that far back in the field through good strategy and a few on-track passes and a good race car. So, we’ll take this one and go to Brazil from here.”
Penske-Chevrolet has so far dominated the 2012 season. Honda updated its turbocharger for this weekend. But, complaints caused IndyCar to order them removed before the weekend started, while IndyCar gathers data. Stay tuned.
The official Pole Position driver, RYAN BRISCOE/Team Penske Chevrolet finished seventh, after leading five laps.
First Starter-DARIO FRANCHITTI/Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda had a disappointing day. After an uneven start, he finished fifteenth after leading four laps. Rookie JOSEF NEWGARDEN/Sarah Hartman Fisher Racing Honda, who started besides Franchitti, did as he predicted Saturday – tried an early pass on Franchitti. Instead, the kid ended up hitting the tires in Turn Five and his day was ended.
The top Lotus driver was again SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/Lotus-Dragon Racing, who finished seventeenth, three laps down due to an early nose job into the tire barriers. He had started twenty-fifth and moved up five places until he hit the tires on Lap 20. The car was repaired and he continued the race.
There were seven leaders and ten leader changes. Power led fifteen laps. Other leaders were Sato-16; and JUSTIN WILSON/Dale Coyne Racing Honda-15.
Three cautions for contacts took 17 laps. Nobody was hurt much, although MARCO ANDRETTI/Andretti Autosports Chevrolet might beg to differ. He suffered a hurt right hand after he catapulted over GRAHAM RAHAL/Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Each blames the other for the contact which ended the day for them.
Besides RHR, two other drivers were assessed penalties for avoidable contact – HELIO CASTRONEVES/Team Penske Chevrolet for thirty seconds, and EJ VISO with a drive through.
1. WILL POWER/Chevrolet -127
2. HELIO CASTRONEVES/Chevrolet-103
3. SIMON PAGENAUD/Honda-100
4. SCOTT DIXON/Honda-96
5. JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/Chevrolet-95
6. RYAN HUNTER-REAY/Chevrolet-81
7. RYAN BRISCOE/Chevrolet-72
8. GRAHAM RAHAL/Honda-62
9. RUBENS BARRICHELLO/Chevrolet-59
10. JR HILDEBRAND/Chevrolet-57
1. SIMON PAGENAUD-100
2. JOSEF NEWGARDEN-42
3. KATHERINE LEGGE-36
The next race is Brazil in two weeks.