Houston IndyCar: Pagenaud leads Aleshin in Schmidt one-two
|By Mark Glendenning||Sunday, June 29th 2014, 22:18 GMT|
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 Retirements: 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