Juan Pablo Montoya wins 2015 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

March 30, 2015

Team Penske put on quite a show Sunday at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, as Juan Pablo Montoya held off teammate and reigning IndyCar champ Will Power over the final 27 laps to win the season-opening race by 0.9930 of a second.

Tony Kanaan, driving the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, finished third, and Helio Castroneves, the only three-time winner at St. Petersburg, placed fourth in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Simon Pagenaud finished fifth in the No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet.

Montoya held a 3.3-second advantage over Power following an exchange of final pit stops on Laps 81 and 82, but Power closed to within 0.6147 of a second on Lap 100 and was sizing up his best opportunity to attempt a pass of Montoya's No. 2 Chevrolet.

Power made his move entering the tight left-hand Turn 10 on Lap 101, but the cars made slight contact and Power's No. 1 Chevrolet fell 1.5474 seconds back at the start/finish line.

"If I hadn't damaged my wing, maybe I would have had another shot," Power said. "He was very strong on the front straight and my exits weren't very good. I thought maybe I would catch him off-guard there. You don't expect someone to pass there, so, yeah, I gave it a shot."

Montoya recorded his second victory since returning full time to Indy car racing in 2014, and his first on an Indy car road or street course since Vancouver in his 1999 CART championship season.

"I saw (Power) make the move, but he was way too far and I wasn't going to give him the position," Montoya said. "If he was beside me, I would have said, 'OK, go ahead.' When I got to the turning point, he wasn't even close. It is a shame we touched, but it's all good, it's racing."

The last Team Penske 1-2 finish was August 2014 at Milwaukee, with Power beating Montoya by 2.7 seconds. It was the 175th Indy car victory for the team (78 on road or street courses).

"I was surprised at how aggressively he turned, but he wanted to win the race and so did I," said Power.

Aside from the bump on lap 101, Montoya cited other reasons for the victory.

"The car was really good on black tires and that was the key," said Montoya.  "The tires were not falling off and right there at the end I was just running slow to look after them. When I needed to push, I could push. Everybody with Verizon and Team Penske did an amazing job - Chevy as well. This aero kit is amazing to drive."

Owner Roger Penske had the final say on his team's successful day.

"It was a fight between our two guys in front. It was just an amazing weekend," Penske said. "To come back this year with the fast times in qualifying and win this race 1-2, and four drivers in the top six, wow, what a day."

Below are the official results of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg IndyCar Series event on the 1.8 mile St Petersburg street circuit, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1.  (4) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 110, Running
2.  (1) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 110, Running
3.  (7) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 110, Running
4.  (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 110, Running
5.  (2) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy, 110, Running
6.  (6) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 110, Running
7.  (8) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running
8.  (21) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running
9.  (19) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Chevy, 110, Running
10.  (12) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running
11.  (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running
12.  (10) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 110, Running
13.  (5) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running
14.  (14) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running
15.  (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 110, Running
16.  (16) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running
17.  (22) Gabby Chaves, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running
18.  (11) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 110, Running
19.  (18) Sage Karam, Dallara-Chevy, 109, Running
20.  (17) Stefano Coletti, Dallara-Chevy, 109, Running
21.  (13) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 109, Running
22.  (20) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 100, Running
23.  (23) Francesco Dracone, Dallara-Honda, 70, Mechanical
24.  (24) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 19, Mechanical

Winners average speed: 86.735
Time of Race: 02:16:58.1079
Margin of victory: 0.9930 of a second
Cautions: 5 for 22 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:

Power 1 - 21
Pagenaud 22 -23 
Power 24 - 48
Hawksworth 49 -53 
Power 54 - 82
Castroneves 83
Montoya 84 - 110

Point Standings: Montoya 51, Power 44, Kanaan 35, Castroneves 33, Pagenaud 31, Bourdais 28, Hunter-Reay 26, Hawksworth 25, Filippi 22, Andretti 20.

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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