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Houston IndyCar: Pagenaud leads Aleshin in Schmidt one-two

Simon Pagenaud wins Houston IndyCar 2014

Simon Pagenaud dominated the second race in this weekend's Houston IndyCar double-header to lead Mikhail Aleshin across the line for a Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsport one-two.

Pagenaud stalked polesitter Helio Castroneves before seizing the advantage just after a restart, and aside from when the field was closed up by later yellow flags, what was pretty much the last that any of his rivals saw of him.

Not even a string of late caution periods could make much of a dent in Pagenaud's lead, and he ultimately went on to cross the line more than seven seconds clear of his team-mate.

Aleshin's route to the podium was a little more eventful. He started the race from second - his career-best qualifying position - but survived a scare mid-race when Graham Rahal suddenly slowed with a mechanical problem and the Russian ran into the back of him.

Aleshin was able to continue after pitting for a new nose, but a later scare awaited when he developed a deflating tyre over the final few laps. He managed to keep going, and remained clear of some ferocious battling behind him to finish a full 9.0s ahead of third place.

"It's a miracle I even finished," he said.

With less than two laps to go, the occupant of the bottom step of the podium appeared destined to be Will Power, who had put in a superb race after qualifying near the back of the field. His first sign of trouble was a severe vibration, followed moments later by collapsed front suspension. He managed to limp home in 11th.

Stepping up to take his place was Bryan Herta Autosport rookie Jack Hawksworth, who put in an outstanding performance after starting from right at the back.

He was one of two drivers to gamble on starting on the harder black tyres, but the real key to his result was a swashbuckling performance behind the wheel that belied his relative inexperience and single-car team status.

His late-race battle with Juan Pablo Montoya and Charlie Kimball was the standout in an afternoon full of highlight reel moments.

Kimball crossed the line fourth ahead of Sebastien Bourdais, who drove the second part of the race with half a front wing following a clash with Castroneves.

The Brazilian had popped out to threaten an overtaking move on Pagenaud, but by the time he swung back onto the racing line, Bourdais was already there.

In the immediate aftermath the Penske driver was insistent that Bourdais was to blame; in reality it did not look like much more than a racing incident.

Luca Filippi was on course for a top 10 finish until he crashed into the tyres with just one lap to run, while Scott Dixon's miserable weekend continued when he was forced into the pits with brake problems. The reigning champion eventually finished 12 laps down on the leaders.

Saturday's surprise winner Carlos Huertas was the first DNF of the afternoon; the Dale Coyne driver pulling off the track with an unidentified mechanical problem.

Results - 90 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                      Time/Gap
 1.  Simon Pagenaud      Schmidt Dallara-Honda    1h51m43.0625s
 2.  Mikhail Aleshin     Schmidt Dallara-Honda         +7.2622s
 3.  Jack Hawksworth     Herta Dallara-Honda          +17.0208s
 4.  Charlie Kimball     Ganassi Dallara-Chevy        +18.5927s
 5.  Sebastien Bourdais  KV Dallara-Chevy             +20.2366s
 6.  Ryan Hunter-Reay    Andretti Dallara-Honda       +25.3920s
 7.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Penske Dallara-Chevy         +30.2312s
 8.  Ryan Briscoe        Ganassi Dallara-Chevy        +30.5917s
 9.  Marco Andretti      Andretti Dallara-Honda       +31.3259s
10.  Tony Kanaan         Ganassi Dallara-Chevy        +50.3098s
11.  Will Power          Penske Dallara-Chevy       +1m12.7735s
12.  Justin Wilson       Coyne Dallara-Honda             -1 lap
13.  Mike Conway         Carpenter Dallara-Chevy         -1 lap
14.  James Hinchcliffe   Andretti Dallara-Honda          -1 lap
15.  Luca Filippi        Rahal Dallara-Honda            -2 laps
16.  Graham Rahal        Rahal Dallara-Honda            -3 laps
17.  Sebastian Saavedra  KV Dallara-Chevy               -6 laps
18.  Scott Dixon         Ganassi Dallara-Chevy         -12 laps


     Takuma Sato         Foyt Dallara-Honda             74 laps
     Josef Newgarden     Fisher Dallara-Honda           61 laps
     Helio Castroneves   Penske Dallara-Chevy           48 laps
     Carlos Munoz        Andretti Dallara-Honda         40 laps
     Carlos Huertas      Coyne Dallara-Honda             2 laps
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