|Date: 3/29/2010 7:29:56 PM|
Power Passes St. Pete Puddles
By Walter Elliott
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Will Power took advantage of lap
72 leader E.J. Viso's misfortune and held off Justin Wilson in
the closing laps to win a rain-delayed IRL IZOD Indy Car
Series Honda GP of St. Petersburg here Monday afternoon.
Power, who had led the race's first four laps from the pole,
was closing in on Viso when the latter's gear shift linkage
came apart. Although the Verizon/Mobil 1 Team Penske No.
12 Dallara-Honda driver was never headed again, Power had
to hold off a charging Wilson while the 100-lap street race
Power, who was a part-time fill-in for Team Penske's Helio
Castroneves here last year, is headed to the April 9-11 Indy
GP of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park with a
commanding IZOD ICS points lead. The Australian and third
full-time Penskeman has 103 points after two races.
Andretti Autosports' Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dario Franchitti,
plus DRR's Wilson, at 59 points each, share second place.
Nazareth, Pa.'s Sage Karam, 15, had a perfect weekend in
the US Formula 2000 National Championship by
Cooper/Mazda's season opener. The WKA national
champion, who was signed by Andretti Motorsports March
3, swept both 33-lap races.
Second generation driver Conor Daly, of
Indianapolis, continuted the IRL Road to Indy youth
movement here by winning Saturday's STAR Mazda race.
Randy Pobst, in a Volvo S60 and Dario Crescentini, in a
Porsche 911 GT3, split the SCCA Acura World Challenge
rounds Friday and Saturday.
Fremch European F3 veteran J.K. Vernay held off ex-Champ
Car man Jan Heylen and Stefan Wilson to make an all IRL
Firestone Indy Lights Series rookie podium Sunday
afternoon. A light rain at the start, however,
helped defending class champion and poleman
J.R. Hildebrand collide with another driver.
The rain turned into a 4.09-inch-dumping storm onto the
14-turn, 1.8-mile street/airport course - prompting IRL
officials to postpone the headliner until 10 a.m. Monday.
Andretti Green Promotions then allowed ticket holders and
they general public in free that morning.
Marco Andretti came from sixth place to oust Power on lap
five before being overtaken by Scott Dixon the next lap.
The third generation driver from Nazareth, Pa. had to pit
early with a punctured tire and salvaged 12th place from
among 17 finishers.
Another seven starters failed to go the distance mostly
due to crashes or collisions. The caution flag was
consequently brought out five times to slow 23 laps.
Power, who led all but a Friday morning practice, was the
one to beat all weekend. He led three times for 50 laps
while another seven drivers took single turns leading
FINISH (Running Unless Otherwise Noted): WILL POWER,
Justin Wilson, Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, Dario
Franchitti, Alex Tagliani, Danica Patrick, Raphael Matos,
Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco
Andretti, Mario Romancini (R), Hideki Mutoh, Vitor Meira,
Simona de Silverstro (R); (DNF) EJ Viso (lap 73 - shifter
linkage), Scott Dixon,(lap 73 - crash) Mike Conway,(lap 64 -
crash), Dan Wheldon,and Mario Moraes (lap 46 - collision), ,
Takuma Sato (R), (lap 24 - crash) Alex Lloyd (R),(lap 14 -
collision) Milka Duno (lap 7 - handling). .
POINTS (Top 10 Drivers): POWER-103; Hunter-Reay,
Franchitti and Wilson (tie)-59; Matos-56; Castroneves-54;
Briscoe-51; Meira-50; Wheldon-46; Patrick-41.
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