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Hinchcilffe pays tribute to Moore, Wheldon after Honda win

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St. Petersburg, Fla. -- James Hinchcliffe wears red driving gloves in honor of fellow Canadian driver Greg Moore. He'll carry a trophy for himself.

Toronto's Hinchcliffe wrapped himself in the country's flag on Sunday after winning the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for his first Izod IndyCar Series victory. He held off three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves by 1.09 seconds.

The last Canadian driver to win a race in this sport was Paul Tracy in a 2007 Champ Car World Series race in Cleveland.

Moore, another Canadian, was killed in a Champ Car crash in the last race of the 1999 season.

Adding to the story is the fact Hinchcliffe drives the car intended for Dan Wheldon, who was killed in a 2011 crash the day he signed with Andretti Autosport. Wheldon called this track his home track, living just a few miles north of here.

"That's what makes the win even more special," Hinchcliffe said. "To be honest, this is the perfect place to get my first (IndyCar) win."

Hinchcliffe talked about the closeness he feels with Wheldon's family, including Wheldon's sister, Holly, who was among the first to text him when he got the ride. Wheldon's widow, Susie, waved the green flag for Sunday's race.

"They're like my family," he said. "I always told them, my trailer is your trailer. This is your car."

The win also was the first in IndyCar for GoDaddy, which sponsors Danica Patrick in NASCAR. Patrick won her only IndyCar race, in 2008, with Motorola as a sponsor. Brad Keselowski won three Nationwide Series races for the Internet domain company.

"I can't tell you how much that means," Hinchcliffe said. "(GoDaddy) took a big gamble on me."

Andretti teammate Marco Andretti finished third with Tony Kanaan fourth, Scott Dixon fifth and Simona De Silvestro sixth. De Silvestro was bidding to become the first woman since Patrick to earn a top-three finish, but she lost three positions in the waning laps.

The rest of the top 10 was a fierce battle in the final laps. EJ Viso, whose Andretti car crashed in practice due to a failed suspension, finished seventh ahead of Takuma Sato in his first race for A.J. Foyt Racing. Justin Wilson and Alex Tagliani rounded out the top 10.

Will Power arguably had the strongest car, but he was effectively eliminated on Lap 81 when, during a caution period, JR Hildebrand ran over his back.

Hildebrand said he didn't see Power's car slow behind others, and he went over the right side of Power's car.

Power, who was third at the time of the incident, dropped back to 16th with a flat right rear tire. He got to 12th before he slid through Turn 4 and bumped the tire barrier.

Reigning series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay also had trouble. He had a throttle issue on Lap 64 that caused him to slow in Turn 10. Several cars took evasive action to avoid hitting Hunter-Reay, but Graham Rahal couldn't. The contact wasn't great, but it was enough.

There was the usual amount of contact on the tight street circuit lined with concrete. Sebastian Saavedra, while battling with an issue to his left front wing, ran into the Turn 10 wall.

Dario Franchitti also hit the wall after storming out of the pits with new tires. They weren't up to temperature and he slid through the bumpy Turn 3. That ended his day, and he finished last in a 25-car field.

"We truly struggled and I just said to Chip (Ganassi), 'I had to try to make it up somewhere,'" Franchitti said. "I just stepped over the line there on cold tires. Hit a bump in 3, was in the marbles and then the wall.

"Totally my mistake. Just pushing too hard trying to get back on level pegging somehow."

Castroneves was happy to finish second, but he wasn't thrilled about it because it meant being the first loser. He said drivers have to capitalize when they have a car as good as Team Penske gave him for this driver.

Castroneves was mad at himself for the wiggle under braking that caused his car to slide through Turn 1 on Lap 81. That's where Hinchcliffe jumped on him.

"I don't think I warmed up the tires enough," he said. "I was braking at the same place; locked the rear. It was a good thing nobody was in front of me because it probably would have been a big accident."
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