All the Honda engine teams have to be thinking what they have to do to win a race. They were all given a huge advantage in today's race with the 10 spot penalty given to all the Chevrolet teams due to changing engines this week. If there was any race a Honda team was going to win, it was going to be today.
That obviously didn't happen.
Will Power used a great fuel strategy at the end of the 85-lap race to earn his second consecutive win this season and the second win of his career at Long Beach. It was also Power's 17th career IZOD IndyCar Series win.
Power pitted one lap earlier than Takuma Sato in the final sequence of pit stops, and then passed Sato a few laps later on the track for what ended up as the winning pass.
Rookie and runner-up Simon Pagenaud passed Rubens Barrichello with 12 laps to go for third, and then passed Sato for second with six laps to go. The Frenchman used a fierce run at the end, gaining more than a second per lap on Power, but that still wasn't enough to catch him as he came home second.
Pagenaud led a race high 26 laps today in a runner-up effort as he moved from fifth to third in the points standings.
For Power, he came from the 12th starting spot after starting ninth last week to reach victory lane as his team owner Roger Penske has won all three races so far in the 2012 season. The win also gave Power the points lead as he passed teammate Helio Castroneves for the points leading heading into Brazil in two weeks.
The final spot on the podium was looking like it was going to be Sato's, but he was spun by Ryan Hunter-Reay on the last lap and Hunter-Reay crossed the line third while Sato ended up eighth.
Due to the contact though, Hunter-Reay was given a 30-second penalty and that dropped him to sixth in the finishing order and gave his teammate James Hinchcliffe the third place finish. That was Hinchcliffe's highest finishing position of his career and first podium.
Rounding out the top five was Chevrolet's Tony Kanaan and J.R. Hildebrand. That gave Chevrolet four of the top five finishing positions, and eight of the top ten finishers as Hunter-Reay came home sixth, Ryan Briscoe seventh, Sato eighth, Rubens Barrichello ninth and Castroneves tenth.
For Kanaan, the fourth place finish gave him a 15 spot jump in the points standings as he went from last to 11th as the series prepares to enter his home country of Brazil in two weeks.
The racing today made this one of the best races we've seen at Long Beach. Due to a few crazy incidents early and the 10 position grid penalty for the Chevrolet's, most of the field was on different pit strategies as we saw guys in different positions all day.
The first incident came on Lap 1 in the first turn as rookie Josef Newgarden, who had his career best starting position at second, tried to pass polesitter Dario Franchitti on the outside going into Turn 1. There was a little bit of contact as it knocked Newgarden into the outside tire barrier and ended his day very prematurely.
The second incident of the day was when Sebastien Bourdais used too much rear brake and spun into the tire barriers. He would continue and finish 17th, three laps off the pace.
The third and craziest incident of the day saw Marco Andretti run over the right rear of Graham Rahal after Rahal appeared to block Andretti heading into a turn. Andretti got airborne and nearly flipped, but came down hard in the tire barriers. That ended both drivers' days, as Andretti came home 25th and Rahal 24th.
That wasn't the only incident on the Lap 22 craziness.
Alex Tagliani was ran into the wall in the hair pin from E.J. Viso and rookie Katherine Legge ended up the tire barrier in a separate incident.
And then, during the caution period, defending race winner Mike Conway lost fourth gear and stalled in the back portion of the track. He would continue, but lost power later in the race and finished 22nd.
The other major story during the caution flag was that Scott Dixon had a mechanical failure and stalled in the exact same spot as the Andretti/Rahal incident, just as the field was about to go green. Dixon looked like he was going to be a player for the win, but the failure dropped him out of the race and gave him a 23rd-place finish after coming home runner-up in the first two races this season. That dropped Dixon from second to fourth in the standings heading into Brazil.
The remainder of the race saw many different strategies and great racing at they went caution free on the 1.98 mile street circuit.
The series heads to Brazil in two weeks in the final race before the Indianapolis 500 in May.
1. 12 Will Power
2. 77 Simon Pagenaud (R)
3. 27 James Hinchcliffe
4. 11 Tony Kanaan
5. 4 J.R. Hildebrand
6. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay
7. 6 Ryan Briscoe
8. 15 Takuma Sato
9. 8 Rubens Barrichello (R)
10. 3 Helio Castroneves
11. 18 Justin Wilson
12. 19 James Jakes
13. 5 E.J. Viso -1 lap
14. 20 Ed Carpenter -2
15. 10 Dario Franchitti -2
16. 22 Oriol Servia -2
17. 7 Sebastien Bourdais -3
18. 83 Charlie Kimball -4
19. 6 Katherine Legge (R) -5
20. 78 Simona de Silvestro OUT
21. 98 Alex Tagliani OUT
22. 14 Mike Conway OUT
23. 9 Scott Dixon OUT
24. 38 Graham Rahal OUT
25. 26 Marco Andretti OUT
26. 67 Josef Newgarden (R) Out
Points standings after three races:
1. 12 Will Power 127
2. 3 Helio Castroneves -21
3. 77 Simon Pagenaud (R) -27
4. 9 Scott Dixon -31
5. 27 James Hinchcliffe -32
6. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay -46
7. 2 Ryan Briscoe -54
8. 38 Graham Rahal -65
9. 8 Rubens Barrichello (R) -68
10. 4 J.R. Hildebrand -70