Power dominates field to win in Alabama
Will Power started up front and never relinquished his spot to win the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
The Australian extended his lead in the final laps and finished 3.38 seconds ahead of Scott Dixon on Sunday, while Dario Franchitti was third on the 2.38-mile road course at Barber Motorsports Park.
Power became the first IndyCar driver to lead wire to wire since Franchitti did it at Sonoma in 2009.
Power dominated in practice and qualifying rounds the past two years at Barber, and stressed how badly he wanted to win after a pit strategy backfired and cost him the lead in 2010 - and perhaps the IndyCar points championship.
IndyCar's second race since moving to the double-file restart helped produce plenty of thrills - along with six full-course cautions. Six drivers were knocked out of the race by contact, including Ryan Briscoe, who started in second place.
But all the trouble remained safely behind his teammate Power, and so did the other drivers.
''It was one of the most relaxing races I've ever had,'' Power said. ''I was just really cruising.''
It was Dixon's second straight runner-up finish at Barber.
Power's Penske teammate, Briscoe, ran into trouble for the second straight race. Ryan Hunter-Reay bounced off a curb trying to pass underneath and sent Briscoe spinning into the gravel on lap 57.
Hunter-Reay was penalized for avoidable contact, dropping from fifth to 18th, but Briscoe wasn't sympathetic.
''He's sticking his nose into where it doesn't belong,'' Briscoe said. ''It's not a passing zone.''
But he wasn't complaining about the restarts.
''The double-file restarts at this track are awesome,'' Briscoe said. ''That was some really good racing.''
Danica Patrick made a four-spot move after that caution, briefly up to third, after opting not to take tires on a yellow-flag pit stop on lap 57 and getting out ahead of Franchitti. She couldn't keep up, finishing 17th.
Marco Andretti finished fourth for his second straight top-5 at Barber, while Oriol Servia was fifth. Defending champion Helio Castroneves finished seventh, behind Tony Kanaan. Kanaan made the biggest move after starting 24th in his second racing with KV Racing.
James Hinchcliffe was knocked out of his first IndyCar race, along with E.J. Viso, on lap 40 after getting caught up in Viso's spinout.
Hinchcliffe, who admitted to a rookie mistake in Lap 1 trouble, put the blame on Viso and spoke to him about it afterward.
''Day 1 of racing school, you learn to use the brakes and clutch,'' Hinchcliffe said. ''He hit the gas.''
IndyCar President Brian Barnhart notified drivers Sunday morning that the restart zone would begin 325 feet from the start/finish line, up from 200 feet at St. Petersburg.
''I can't stress the importance of everyone getting through the first lap cleanly,'' Barnhart told them.
It didn't happen. Unlike St. Petersburg, the drivers managed the first turn unscathed, but trouble started moments later. J.R. Hildebrand and Raphael Matos made contact and Hinchcliffe spun out.