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Power wins IndyCar opener in St. Pete

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Will Power went to victory lane on Sunday in the Verizon IndyCar Series' season-opening race, but controversy followed him there.

Power was leading the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg when the first restart came on Lap 82. Power slowly rounded the corner coming to the green flag, then seemed to slow even more.

Drivers behind Power were not sure what to do. Those closest to him slowed, but those farther back were not so fortunate. A pileup ensued.

In the mess was series newcomer Jack Hawksworth, whose car was turned toward the inside of the track in the direction of Marco Andretti's. They hit the barrier that separates pit road from the track.

Andretti hit particularly hard -- even though he was not going that fast -- and favored his right arm getting out of the car.

His father, former CART champion Michael Andretti, was not happy with the front-runner.

"Will caused the crash," the owner of Andretti Autosport said. "It was just wrong what he did."

Power was not penalized by race control. Team Penske president Tim Cindric said IndyCar initiated the green flag before the zone was expecting it.

"They threw the green early," Power said. "I thought we were meant to go in that zone. I was surprised.

"I lifted a little; I did not touch the brake at all. They can look at my data."

Marco Andretti described it as "an accordion effect," and his arm was sore.

"It was just a bad angle (to hit)," he said. "(The car) stopped pretty quick."

Aside from Charlie Kimball's slide into the Turn 1 tire barrier that necessitated the first caution of the race, there were no other stoppages on a picturesque day on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.

Power won his 22nd race in the IndyCar Series and his third in a row. He won the final two races and three of the final five of 2013.

Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport finished second and Helio Castroneves of Team Penske was third.

Juan Pablo Montoya finished 15th in his first IndyCar race since 2000. He also drives for Team Penske.
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