Monday, May 2, 2011
Will Power wins rain-delayed Sao Paulo
SAO PAULO -- Will Power of Australia overcame a damaged car and a wet track to win IndyCar's Sao Paulo 300 on Monday, a day after the race was postponed because of heavy rain on the streets of South America's biggest city.
Graham Rahal was second and Ryan Briscoe third at the 2.5-mile, 11-turn Anhembi temporary street circuit.
Power, who started from the pole position, drove to victory for Penske after Japan's Takuma Sato had to pit for fuel with about 10 minutes left. Sato led for 23 laps but finished eighth after his gamble failed.
Power finished 4.672 seconds ahead of Rahal and 7.904 in front of teammate Briscoe. It was his second win in four races this season, giving him the points lead going into the Indy 500 later this month.
Power got his second consecutive win in Sao Paulo despite damage to his car. He lost control exiting a turn early in the race and touched the wall with his left-rear tire.
Will Power, who started from the pole, drove to victory after Japan's Takuma Sato had to pit for fuel with about 10 minutes left.
"I bent the rear suspension enough to make the steering wheel quite off to the left," he said. "At first I was worried, I thought, 'Man, this might be tough to drive,' but then I just put my head down and kept [going]. I adjusted to the imbalance in the car and it was fine."
Power said he wasn't sure if the car was going to make it until the end, but it kept handling well enough to allow him to make his way through the field after pitting early while Sato and others stayed out.
"It was an awesome race," Power said. "There were so many different track conditions. It was a matter of keeping calm and getting past most people without making mistakes."
Power, who has started from the pole in all four races this season, dropped to ninth and had to pass four cars at the end to move back to the front.
"We did a mistake-free race, with the right strategy," the Australian driver said. "My mind was just to slowly pick people off without making mistakes. The team informed me of who I was racing and who was having to stop again."
Sato passed Power with his KV Racing car at the first restart to take the lead going into the first chicane.
"Once I got in the lead I was able to control the pace and was saving fuel massively," Sato said. "In the end our strategy did not work and we should have pitted for fuel during the final caution. It was a shame we did not make it."
Former points leader Dario Franchitti recovered from a crash to finish fourth in the race, which ended at the two-hour limit with only 55 of the scheduled 75 laps completed.
"After me making a mistake on the restart ... we came out of this with a fourth-place result, so I'll take it," said Franchitti, who now trails Power by 14 points.
Rahal's second-place finish with Chip Ganassi Racing was his best since a third place in Japan in 2009. It came after he spun on the wet track and lost several positions early in the race.
The race restarted with 14 laps completed after torrential rain on Sunday had made track conditions unsafe, forcing it to be stopped twice and eventually postponed.
Last year's inaugural Sao Paulo 300 also was affected by severe weather and ended before its scheduled 75 laps.
The cars returned to a dry track on Monday but it started raining hard again as soon as the green flag dropped, forcing all cars to immediately go to the pits for wet tires.
Drivers still struggled to stay on track and visibility remained poor because of water spraying from the cars.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, who started second, spun out and crashed the back end of his car. He had already damaged a rear wing on Sunday and had to borrow one from teammate Mike Conway to return racing on Monday. He finished 18th.
The first yellow flag came when Sebastien Bourdais missed a turn and went straight into a tire barrier. Franchitti was one of the many drivers having trouble breaking into the first corner with several others being forced into the runoff area. Danica Patrick, Alex Tagliani, James Jakes and Justin Wilson also had problems on the slick track.
Venezuela's E.J. Viso had a good run on the wet and was up to second before receiving a drive-thru penalty for repeatedly blocking Marco Andretti. Viso dropped to ninth after the penalty and eventually finished 13th, one position ahead of Andretti.
The next four IndyCar races will be on oval tracks, beginning with the 100th running of the Indy 500 on May 29.
The race was postponed Sunday after rain created havoc at the start, with several cars crashing and going off the track at the tight first chicane. It was stopped after only nine laps because of poor visibility and slippery track conditions.