The Verizon Indycar Series kicked off in St.Petersburg Sunday with Team Chevy driver Will Power bringing home a controversial win for The General. Power crossed the finish line more than 2 seconds ahead of runner-up Ryan Hunter-Reay for the Australian’s fourth victory in the last six IndyCar Series races.
Power qualified fourth in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and moved into first place after making a pass in the first turn of lap 31. He maintained his lead for the rest of the day, only giving it up momentarily during pit-stops. The race was moving at a fast pace, with no caution flags until lap 75 of 110, when Charlie Kimball slid into the turn one tire barrier.
When the green flag was dropped signaling the restart of the race on lap 82, Power inexplicably slowed down, bunching up the field. Racers in the midfield were already accelerating hard expecting a green flag ahead, resulting in contact amongst the competitors, which ended the race for series newcomer Jack Hawksworth as well as Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport.
“Will caused the crash,” Michael Andretti, Marco’s father and team owner of Andretti Autosport said. “It was just wrong what he did.”
Power and his team, Team Penske, maintain the green flag was dropped before the grid was expecting it.
“They threw the green early. I thought we were meant to go in that zone. I was surprised,” Power said of the incident. “I lifted a little; I did not touch the brake at all. They can look at my data.”
Power was not penalized by race control as a result of the incident. His Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves occupied the third position on the podium Sunday to solidify a Chevrolet-dominated podium in Florida. Team Chevy will be hoping to carry some of that momentum to California when the next leg of the Verizon IndyCar series, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, kicks off on April 13.