Verizon IndyCar Series Race Report
Track: NOLA Motorsports Park, Avondale. La.
Race: Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana
Date: April 12, 2015
No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet – Will Power
Laps Completed: 47/47
Laps Led: 0
Points Position (behind leader): Third (-14)
Recap: Will Power chased Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya through much of the race before a handful of cars stayed out on track during the final round of pit stops to finish in front of the current series champion. The seventh-place finish dropped Power to third place in the Verizon IndyCar Series driver standings, 14 points behind Montoya, who maintained his lead by finishing in the fifth position. Power ran in the second position for 32 of the 47 laps of the timed race, but fell to the eighth position on Lap 32 when he pitted with the leaders while six drivers — James Hinchcliffe, Carlos Huertas, Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, James Jakes, Tony Kanaan and Simona de Silvestro — stayed on track and occupied the first six positions when the race resumed on Lap 39. However, multiple caution periods during the final eight laps prevented Power from catching the new leaders and he settled for seventh.
Quote: “The Verizon Chevy boys did a great job despite the difficult conditions. It was frustrating that we couldn’t go green most of the time and those were difficult conditions when you’re on slicks (tires). Great battling when we went green for a few laps and it was a lot of fun, but it didn’t last long. So, disappointed for the fans that they didn’t get to see is at our absolute best. We’ll just look forward for even better results in Long Beach.”
No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Juan Pablo Montoya
Laps Completed: 47/47
Laps Led: 31
Points Position: First
Recap: Juan Pablo Montoya led the first 32 laps of the race, but lost the lead when six cars stayed out on track while the leaders pitted on Lap 32. Two subsequent caution periods prevented Montoya from trying to chase down the leaders, but he did move up two positions in the final 15 laps to finish fifth and maintain his lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series driver standings. Montoya, who started first when qualifying was canceled Saturday because of inclement weather and the field was set by points, raced away from his competitors on a wet track at the start of the race and held the lead through four yellow flags during the caution-filled race. Team Penske teammate Will Power stalked Montoya through the first 32 laps as all four Team Penske drivers held down the top four spots early in the race.
Quote: “We definitely had a fast Verizon Chevy today and it’s good to come away from NOLA with a top five. I think it’s one of those deals where we kind of caught a break yesterday starting on pole with the weather but our luck went the other way today. The cool thing is two races in a row to start the season Team Penske has had the fastest cars and I am very excited about that. I’m looking forward to getting back to Long Beach next week. Hopefully we can keep the ball rolling there.”
No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves
Laps Completed: 47/47
Laps Led: 1
Points Position (behind leader): 2nd (-10)
Recap: Helio Castroneves rallied from an incident early in the race to finish second in the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park on Sunday. The front wing of the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet driven by Castroneves was damaged as a result of contact early on and it had to be replaced as the three-time Indy 500 winner fell to 20th in the running order, but the team kept fighting and through deft pit strategy Castroneves returned to finish second behind James Hinchcliffe. The result moved Castroneves up to second place, just 10 points behind Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings after two races of the 2015 season. Castroneves was running third when his car collided with one driven by Francesco Dracone on Lap 20 after Dracone cut across the nose of his Chevrolet in Turn 1. The contact damaged the left front wing on Castroneves car, and the subsequent pit stop for repairs on Lap 22 dropped him back in the field. However, with his strategy changed because of the unexpected pit stop, Castroneves was able to remain on track while the leaders pitted on Lap 32 of the timed race. He was able to restart in third on Lap 39 before passing James Jakes for second place on Lap 40. Unfortunately two late caution periods prevented Castroneves from trying to catch Hinchcliffe for the win. The finish marked the 120th top-five result in Castroneves in 397 career starts.
Quote: “First of all I have to give congratulations to the track, the entire Verizon IndyCar Series and all the fans for the first race here at NOLA. The track conditions were really difficult because there were areas where there was a stream of water on the race track and it was very difficult for us to keep the cars on there. But the Hitachi boys, man, they awesome. Roger (Penske), (engineer) Jonathan (Diuguid) and everybody never gave up…..I never gave up and at the end of the day to be taking second place – it’s a very happy day.”
No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud
Laps Completed: 43/47
Laps Led: 0
Points Position (behind leader): 10th (-43)
Recap: Simon Pagenaud ran among the top-four cars for 28 of the first 32 laps before he was shuffled back in the field after a late pit stop. While attempting to make his way back through the field he was involved in a three-car crash that dropped him to a disappointed 20th-place finish. Pagenaud, who started fifth, moved up to fourth on Lap 4 and stayed there until Lap 32, when he pitted with teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power under caution while six other drivers — including teammate Helio Castroneves — stayed on track. On Lap 43, while running eighth, Pagenaud was involved in a crash with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais that knocked all three cars out of the race and dropped Pagenaud from fifth to 10th in driver points after the second race of the 2015 IndyCar season.
Quote: “Really too bad about the finish because the Penske Truck Rental Chevy was really fast. It handled great in traffic and we looked like we were heading toward a good result. I’m not sure what Hunter-Reay was thinking there. He just drove us off the track and I’m just glad everyone is OK. I want to thank the fans for staying with us this weekend despite the weather. I think the No. 22 Chevy team will be able to come back strong at Long Beach.”