Indianapolis • Simon Pagenaud won the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday by stretching his fuel to the finish on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Frenchman was one of several drivers to gamble on fuel strategy, and made it stick for the final 29 laps Saturday to earn his third career IndyCar victory. He took the lead when Oriol Servia had to stop with four laps remaining, and Pagenaud managed to make it to the finish despite having to keep one eye on his mirrors.
Grand Prix of Indianapolis
At Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Lap length » 1.5 miles
Lap length: 2.439 miles
(Starting position in parentheses)
All cars Dallara chassis
1. (4) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 82.
2. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 82.
3. (10) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 82.
4. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 82.
5. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 82.
6. (14) Ryan Briscoe, Chevrolet, 82.
7. (2) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 82.
8. (5) Will Power, Chevrolet, 82.
9. (16) Takuma Sato, Honda, 82.
10. (9) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 82.
11. (18) Justin Wilson, Honda, 82.
12. (22) Oriol Servia, Honda, 82.
13. (17) Carlos Huertas, Honda, 82.
14. (13) Marco Andretti, Honda, 82.
15. (6) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 82.
16. (8) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 81.
17. (15) Josef Newgarden, Honda, 80.
18. (20) Martin Plowman, Honda, 80.
19. (24) Mike Conway, Chevrolet, 58, mechanical.
20. (11) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 56, contact.
21. (12) Graham Rahal, Honda, 50, contact.
22. (21) Franck Montagny, Honda, 47, contact.
23. (1) Sebastian Saavedra, Chevrolet, 0, contact.
24. (19) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 0, contact.
25. (25) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 0, contact.
Winners average speed: 96.462 mph.
Time of Race: 2:04:24.0261.
Margin of Victory: 0.8906 seconds.
Cautions: 4 for 19 laps.
Lead Changes: 12 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: Hunter-Reay 1-9, Hawksworth 10-27, Hunter-Reay 28, Wilson 29-30, Hawksworth 31-43, Pagenaud 44, Hunter-Reay 45-51, Wilson 52-53, Hunter-Reay 54, Castroneves 55-69, Bourdais 70, Servia 71-77, Pagenaud 78-82.
Points: Power 149, Hunter-Reay 148, Pagenaud 143, Castroneves 102, Dixon 102, Conway 93, Andretti 89, Wilson 87, Kanaan 82, Bourdais 81.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was second and Helio Castroneves third on his 39th birthday.
"Man I didn’t know what we were asking for, but we made fuel," Pagenaud said in Victory Lane. "The fuel saving was amazing. It was nerve-wracking. I was worried about RHR coming back, and I didn’t know what Helio was doing here. I don’t like racing off throttle."
Sebastien Bourdais and Charlie Kimball rounded out the top five.
James Hinchcliffe was taken from the track on a stretcher and transported to a hospital with a concussion. A replay appeared to show he had been hit by debris from a car in front of him following a restart.
"I was actually next to him on track and all of a sudden debris went everywhere and he slowed up," Hunter-Reay said about his Andretti Autosport teammate. "It was something that happened in front of him and he was hit, I don’t know, in the hand, in the head. At first I heard head, and now I hear hand."
The race began with a violent wreck when pole-sitter Sebastian Saavedra stalled on the standing start. He was hit by multiple cars, and debris struck Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard as he waved the green flag.
Saavedra’s car simply didn’t go when the lights went out and, after Hunter-Reay frantically darted around him, Saavedra was clipped by Carlos Munoz and then hit hard from behind by Mikhail Aleshin.
"We just followed protocol at the start," Saavedra said. "As soon as I released the clutch, it went from 11,000 rpm to zero. This should not have happened, unfortunately."
The initial hit from Munoz didn’t seem too bad, but Aleshin’s direct hit sprayed debris all over the track, sending spectators and track workers standing along the wall scrambling for cover.
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