Power Wins Rain-delayed St Petersburg GP
By Carl Wagenfohr
Debris fills the air, as the front end of St Pete resident Dan Wheldon's #4 National Guard racer goes airborne after making wheel to wheel contact with the #32 car of Mario Moraes on lap 47. The rear suspension of Wheldon's car had broken approaching turn 1, causing him to go straight on into Moraes, who was one lap down and had moved off the racing line to allow faster cars through. Both drivers were uninjured in the crash.
ST. PETERSBURG - What a difference a day makes. The 2010 edition of the Indy Racing League's (IRL) St Petersburg Grand Prix was rained-out on Sunday, the track having standing water as deep as six inches in some places following the early afternoon downpour.
The race was rescheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Monday, but started 10 minutes late as city crews dried the track sufficiently to allow the cars to start on slick racing tires under cloudy skies.
The race was dominated by the Penske Racing team, with their drivers Will Power winning, Ryan Briscoe (last year's winner) finishing 3rd, and Helio Castroneves (2-time St Pete winner) finishing 4th. Penske's dominance was punctuated only by Justin Wilson, who finished 2nd, driving for the Dryer & Reinbold team.
2008 winner Graham Rahal, a last minute entry courtesy of a two-race contract with Sarah Fisher Racing, struggled throughout the weekend. Aside from Rahal, the team had no prior experience on the St Pete circuit and their lack of car setup information was a clear disadvantage. Despite that, Rahal finished 8th.
Simona De Silvestro, a female Swiss driver who spent the last 2 seasons in the Atlantic series with good results, had a creditable St Pete debut. She ran as high as 2nd, until she was tapped by the overtaking Rahal at turn 1 on lap 73 of 100, putting her a lap down to finish 16th.
Power, having won both St Pete and the season-opening Brazilian round, leads the IRL championship standings, followed by Miami resident Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dario Franchiti.
The IRL will take a week off before descending on Birmingham for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 9th through 11th.
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