Texas, but on the road

Texas, but on the road

Postby meteorite » Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:22 pm

This weekend (June 28/29) the Indycars returned to Texas, but this time for a double-header on a temporary road course in the city of Houston. Here we will post Saturday and Sunday results as a single unit. so Saturday (obviously) first:

Colombia Day in Houston; Huertas wins first race

HOUSTON -- At 4:50 p.m. CT, Columbian Carlos Huertas completed a monumental day in sports for his native country.

The 23-year-old Verizon IndyCar Series rookie won Race 1 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers under caution for his first victory. Juan Pablo Montoya finished second and rookie Carlos Munoz placed third for the podium sweep, and earlier in the day Colombia won its FIFA World Cup knockout match.

Huertas' previous best finish was eighth in the opening round of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit a month ago. He is the seventh different winner in nine races. Marco Andretti in 2006 at Sonoma Raceway was the last driver to win in his first season.

"The kid has been getting better all year and he showed a lot today," said team owner Dale Coyne, who picked up his first victory since June 2013 at Belle Isle with driver Mike Conway. "He's been very steady and fast, and he performs. We used a good strategy to get him to the front, and when he got there he knew what to do."

Huertas, who led the final seven laps (his first of the season) after his teammate Justin Wilson had to pit for fuel, started 19th in the race that was scheduled for 90 laps but was ruled a timed race (1 hour, 50 minutes) because of rain that delayed the standing start. A one-lap shootout on a restart was set up following a caution on Lap 78, but the car of Graham Rahal clipped the rear of Tony Kanaan's Target Chip Ganassi Racing car heading to the restart zone and a "no start" call came from Race Control.

"The races are so long, you always have a chance to win if you do the right things at the right time," said Huertas, who went a field-high 39 laps on one set of Firestone tires and 18.5 gallons of E85 fuel to close out the 80 laps. "Today was really tough. I was really struggling. I had no pace in the first half of the race. But I reminded myself just to stay calm and do what you have to do and I did that.

"The team called it perfectly with the fuel, and it's a great day."

Sebastien Bourdais, who won on the temporary street circuit in 2006 and '07, placed a season-best fourth and James Hinchcliffe, who led 32 laps early, earned his second top-five finish of the season. Rookie Jack Hawksworth, whose No. 98 car made contact in practice June 27 and started 21st, earned a season-best sixth place.

Championship leader Will Power, who started 18th in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, slid into the Turn 9 tires on Lap 58 to bring out the caution flag. He finished 14th and, combined with teammate Helio Castroneves' ninth place, takes a 33-point lead in the team championship into Race 2 on June 29.

Montoya, who is competing in his first Indy car season since 2000, posted his best finish of the season and follows a third place finish at Texas Motor Speedway on June 7. Munoz, who started 23rd, earned his third career podium and fourth top-five finish (in 12 races).

"We were forced to do something different (fuel strategy) and it paid off," said Montoya, who also won in his first Indy car season (1999). "We did a timed race and with 35 minutes to go, I'm counting laps and I'm thinking, 'We can make it. Why are they not stopping?' Our Verizon Chevy was very good. I thought we had a chance to win, but at the end the tires went off."

Verizon IndyCar Series

Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston

HOUSTON - Results Saturday of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Verizon IndyCar Series race on the 1.634 mile MD Anderson Cancer Center Speedway at NRG Park with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (19) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
2. (11) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
3. (23) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
4. (9) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
5. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
6. (21) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
7. (8) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
8. (16) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
9. (2) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
10. (7) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
11. (14) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
12. (15) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
13. (22) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
14. (18) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 79, Running
15. (20) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 79, Running
16. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 74, Running
17. (17) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 55, Mechanical
18. (13) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 54, Contact
19. (3) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 46, Contact
20. (12) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 41, Mechanical
21. (4) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Honda, 36, Contact
22. (6) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 32, Contact
23. (10) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 31, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 70.389
Time of Race: 01:51:25.5649
Margin of victory: 0.0975
Cautions: 6 for 24 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Pagenaud 1 - 4
Sato 5 - 26
Hinchcliffe 27
Wilson 28
Hinchcliffe 29 - 59
Wilson 60 - 73
Huertas 74 - 80

Point Standings: Power 386, Castroneves 353, Hunter-Reay 336, Pagenaud 295, Montoya 263, Munoz 262, Andretti 259, Dixon 225, Hinchcliffe 214, Bourdais 212.

And so on to the Sunday rematch, with to say the least somewhat different results...

Schmidt Peterson teammates post 1-2 finish

HOUSTON -- Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin turned heartbreak in Race 1 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers into celebration in Victory Circle following an exhausting 90-lap battle in Race 2.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates finished 1-2 on the 1.634-mile, 10-turn temporary street circuit in the second of three doubleheader events this season.

Jack Hawksworth, a Verizon IndyCar Series rookie like Aleshin, leaped from qualifying last to finishing a season-high third. Charlie Kimball finished fourth and Sebastien Bourdais, who overcame a broken front wing sustained in contact on Lap 49 with the car of Helio Castroneves, recovered to finish fifth.

It was the first 1-2 finish for the Indianapolis-based team co-owned by Ric Peterson and former Indy car drivers Sam Schmidt and Davey Hamilton.

"We thought we had the class of the field (in Race 1), but it didn't work out that way," team manager Rob Edwards said. "This is much better."

Pagenaud earned his first Verizon P1 Award for Race 1, but the Frenchman was relegated to a 16th-place finish after struggling on the rain-soaked track at NRG Park. Aleshin's Race 1 ended on Lap 33 after contact with Takuma Sato in Turn 6 after starting a then-best 10th. He started on the front row for Race 2.

"Awesome race. The car was just beautiful," said Pagenaud, who earned his second victory of the season. "That's why I was so disappointed yesterday. We had such a fast car this weekend. We regrouped after Detroit (22nd and 6th-place finishes) and then came up with this package."

Following the Lap 49 caution, Pagenaud found clear sailing through a Lap 63 pit stop and three more full-course cautions. Aleshin, who drove 40 laps on one set of Firestone primary tires and 18.5 gallons of E85, slid into second on the pit stop.

All four full-season rookies posted podium results this weekend (Carlos Huertas winning and Carlos Munoz placing third in Race 1). Four different teams were represented in the top five.

"I can't really explain my feeling. I just have so much emotion," said Aleshin, the first Verizon IndyCar Series driver from Russia. "We had a great qualifying today and had a great race. I had contact with Graham (Rahal) after his pit stop and at this moment I felt like, 'That's it.' But I had a great strategy and had the same pace as the leaders. I was able to catch up and overtake some of them. Because of the strategy we were up there. And then can you imagine? In the end, I (was losing tire pressure). I was really lucky to finish, actually. The team did an amazing job. I don't have enough English words to thank the team."

Castroneves, the Verizon P1 Award winner, lost an opportunity to slice into Team Penske teammate Will Power's championship points advantage in the incident with Bourdais. The No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske was overtaken for the lead in Turn 3 by Pagenaud and then made contact with Bourdais' No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing car on the high-speed run-up to Turn 6.

"I had no idea that he was there," said Castroneves, who tied Rick Mears for fourth all-time with 40 P1 starts. "When I'm attacking I can't have eyes in the back of my head. I am upset because we had a great car and there were 40 laps to go and I wasn't panicking to get the lead back."

Castroneves led a field-high 47 laps to pick up two bonus points, but they were too few. Power, who made contact with a tire barrier on the white flag lap to fall from running third to finish 11th, takes a 39-point lead into the Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco on July 7. That's the margin he enjoyed entering the Houston doubleheader. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished seventh and sixth on the weekend, closed to 41 points behind. Pagenaud is 59 points back in fourth.

Juan Pablo Montoya, who was runner-up to fellow Columbian Huertas in Race 1, was overtaken by Hunter-Reay for sixth and Ryan Briscoe gained seven positions to finish eighth. Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan completed the top 10.

"It feels good to come out of this doubleheader in Houston with a top-10 finish," said Briscoe, who secured his third consecutive top 10 and fifth of the season. "This series is just so competitive and it's a fight to the finish at every race."

Verizon INDYCAR Series

Shell and Pennzoil GP of Houston

HOUSTON - Results Sunday of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.634-mile MD Anderson Cancer Center Speedway at NRG Park with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (3) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
2. (2) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
3. (23) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
4. (19) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
5. (5) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
6. (21) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
7. (14) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
8. (15) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
9. (16) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
10. (8) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
11. (18) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
12. (6) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 89, Running
13. (17) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 89, Running
14. (7) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 89, Running
15. (12) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Honda, 88, Running
16. (4) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 87, Running
17. (20) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 84,Running
18. (11) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 78, Running
19. (10) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 74, Contact
20. (22) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 61, Mechanical
21. (1) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 48, Contact
22. (9) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 40, Contact
23. (13) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 2, Off Course

Race Statistics

Winners average speed: 78.981

Time of Race: 01:51:43.0625

Margin of victory: 7.2622

Cautions: 5 for 21 laps

Lead changes: 3 among 2 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Castroneves 1 - 30
Pagenaud 31
Castroneves 32 -48
Pagenaud 49 - 90

Point Standings: Power 405, Castroneves 366, Hunter-Reay 364, Pagenaud 346, Montoya 289, Andretti 281, Munoz 270, Bourdais 242, Dixon 237, Hinchcliffe 229.
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