Power wins rain-shortened IndyCar opener in Brazil

Will Power made a late overtaking move to take the lead from

Ryan Hunter-Reay to win the rain-shortened IndyCar season opener on

the streets of Sao Paulo on Sunday.

The Australian passed the American with three laps to go,

clinching the inaugural Sao Paulo Indy 300 for his second career


Power crossed the line 1.858 seconds ahead of Hunter-Reay when

the race ended at the two-hour time limit with only 61 of the 75

scheduled laps completed.

The race had to be red-flagged near its halfway point after

heavy rains made track conditions unsafe, marking another setback

for the track which was initially being hailed as one of the

highlights of the season but faced problems throughout the


Home crowd favorite Vitor Meira was third, followed by

compatriot Raphael Matos at the 2.6-mile, 11-turn Anhembi temporary

circuit in South America’s biggest city.

Danica Patrick lost control of her car as it started raining,

finishing 15th.

Power, whose other victory was last year in Edmonton, got out of

his car and celebrated with the thousands of fans packing the

grandstands of the stadium-like Sambadrome where the race took


“I feel awesome,” the Penske driver said. “We battled it out,

it was a great day.”

There were only about three minutes left when Power overtook

Hunter-Reay, breaking late to make the pass at the end of the long


The win was extra special for Power, who last year sustained a

season-ending back injury in a crash in Sonoma and only landed a

full-season deal with Penske late.

“It’s been a tough recovery,” he said. “I’m very grateful to

be given this opportunity. I laid in bed at the hospital and never

thought it was going to happen.”

Hunter-Reay dominated much of the race with his Andretti

Autosport car, but was not able to contend at the end.

“I had a blast all day,” said Hunter-Reay, who led for the

first time since Watkins Glen in 2008. “I had so much fun with

conditions changing all the time, that’s what racing is


Power’s Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe got past Hunter-Reay for

the lead late in the race, but he crashed with about 13 minutes

left after missing a corner. Both had been battling each other for

several laps until Briscoe lost control.

It was the first time in IndyCar Series history that the race

was run on the same day as qualifying, which was postponed from

Saturday because the front straight was too slick and drivers

complained it made racing unsafe. Officials added grooves to the

track overnight and fixed the problem in time for qualifying.

Defending series champion Dario Franchitti earned his 13th

career pole earlier in the day. He led the race after it was

interrupted, but eventually fell to seventh at the end after

sticking with rain tires longer than the other drivers.

The race had to be red-flagged when pouring rain created deep

puddles throughout the newly built street track.

Just before the red flag, Alex Tagliani – who led early in the

race – crashed with Brazil’s Tony Kanaan after being touched from

behind by Dan Wheldon.

The start of the race was marked by a scary incident involving

U.S. driver Marco Andretti, who escaped injury after his car was

hit from behind.

The car of Brazilian driver Mario Moraes finished on top of

Andretti’s and they slid tangled for several yards. The bottom of

Moraes’ car appeared to be touching Andretti’s helmet, and it took

more than five minutes for officials to remove Moraes’ car so the

medical team could attend to Andretti.

Andretti and Moraes were slowing down as other cars made contact

in front of them, including former Formula One driver Takuma Sato,

Franchitti’s teammate Scott Dixon, three-time Indy 500 Helio

Castroneves and even Briscoe.

It was extremely dusty where the grooves were added and dirt was

being constantly thrown into the air, causing visibility


The Sambadrome straight stretches for about a third of a mile

and was the only part of the track with concrete instead of

asphalt, which was what caused the grip problems and forced

officials to work overnight to allow drivers to race hard in

qualifying and the race.

The street circuit was set up in about three months and was

expected to be one of the highlights of the season, with the

Sambadrome and the series’ longest ever straight, which is just

short of a mile and allowed for a lot of overtaking on Sunday.

But the problems on the track this weekend dampened much of that


IndyCar officials were hoping for a clean race as the series

tries to expand in the United States and abroad, looking to carry

the momentum from a thrilling season a year ago when three drivers

reached the final race with a chance to take the title.