BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - IndyCar's champion is back in form.
Ryan Hunter-Reay overcame contact with Helio Castroneves on Lap 49 of the 90-lap race, but he recovered to make the pass on the Brazilian and win the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday.
"He turned the car down and I wasn't slowed down yet," Hunter-Reay said.
Hunter-Reay won for the 10th time in his career, and for the first time since winning at Baltimore in September.
Scott Dixon finished second at this track for the fourth straight year. It was the first time a Penske car didn't win here.
Castroneves, who won in 2010, finished third, Charlie Kimball was fourth.
Will Power, the winner of the past two races, started second but went wide entering the first turn of the first lap as he sought to avoid the aggressiveness of Kimball, rookie Tristan Vautier and Marco Andretti. But that run through the grass cost him six positions.
Power had a similar problem after a restart from a caution on Lap 2. He didn't push the Team Penske car as far the second time, but it was enough to cost him a couple more positions.
Already behind, the team went to fuel-saving mode. Power did an admirable job with the handicap and finished fifth.
The early caution was caused by a traffic jam on the opening lap. Where it started was difficult to judge, but it collected James Hinchcliffe, the winner of the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla., along with Oriol Servia and Graham Rahal. Servia took a hit from behind from Rahal, requiring trips to pit road for repairs for both.
Hinchcliffe didn't immediately appear to have damage, but a rear tire was punctured, causing him to stop on the course.
The worst part was, crews were only able to tow Hinchcliffe part of the way back to pit road before race control was ready to resume the action. So, Hinchcliffe and his car got left in a hideway on the backstretch. Finally, on Lap 71, Andretti Autosport called for him to get out of the car. He did, stretching for the cameras before climbing out.
Dario Franchitti, a four-time IndyCar champion, had his second consecutive bad race. He finished last in St. Petersburg after hitting the Turn 3 wall following a pit stop, and Sunday his Honda-powered car suffered a broken header. He is last in the point standings.