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Power Plays Strategy to Second Brazil Win
Takuma Sato came up 10 minutes short of potentially claiming his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory. Will Power, not usually one to pay attention to time, 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 (the race resumed on Lap 15). Sato, who overtook Power on a Lap 25 restart, gambled on stretching the 22 gallons of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol following a Lap 17 stop that included switching to Firestone Firehawk rain tires.
But the yellow flag sought didn't materialize and the second-year driver of 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.
“Every time we had a restart I was able to gain positions and overtaking the two Penske cars was very exciting," Sato said. "Once I got in the lead I was able to control the pace and was saving fuel massively. However, in the end our strategy did not work and in hindsight we should have pitted for fuel during the final caution (Laps 34-36) because we were not in a position to take a gamble.
"It was a shame we did not make it, but I want to thank the entire team for all their hard work this weekend.”
Power, who won the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series race in Brazil in 2010, also took the lead in the Mario Andretti Road Championship through this first set of four street/road course events.
"Being on pole four times and had two wins is a great start," Power said. "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.
"It was kind of the same thing as St. Pete when I won in ’08," Rahal said of his initial IZOD IndyCar Series victory when raindrops also were bouncing off his helmet. "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."
Dario Franchitti also recovered from the No. 10 Kellogg's car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing making a long slide in Turn 1 on Lap 33 to finish fourth. Oriol Servia was fifth in the No. 2 Telemundo car for Newman/Haas Racing, and Mike Conway made up a lap to finish sixth in the No. 27 Window World Cares car for Andretti Autosport. Justin Wilson, driving the No. 22 HP/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car, was seventh.
"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," said Franchitti, who is 14 points back in second in the championship standings heading to defend his Indianapolis 500 title. "We came out of this with a fourth-place result so I'll take it."
Franchitti is the only driver to finish in the top five in all four events. Servia, third in the standings, and Power join Franchitti as the only drivers to have finished in the top 10 in the four events.
Rookies James Hinchcliffe (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing) and JR Hildebrand (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing) completed the top 10. It was Hildebrand's first top 10, while Hinchcliffe posted his second in a row.
Poor visibility on the 2.536-mile, 11-turn street course caused by persistent rain and approaching dusk forced postponement of the race after 14 laps had been completed May 1. The race was scheduled for 75 laps.
There was 1 hour, 19 minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the two-hour race window. The last IZOD IndyCar Series race postponed because of weather was in March 2010 at St. Petersburg, Fla. -- won by Power.