Team Penske teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power made contact in the closing laps of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Montoya Holds Off Power in Grand Prix of St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Sunday, March 29, 2015) – Juan Pablo Montoya held off Team Penske teammate and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power over the final 27 laps to win the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg by 0.9930 of a second.

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 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

Power, who set the track record on the way to winning the Verizon P1 Award for the 110-lap race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course a day earlier, made his move entering the tight left-hand Turn 10 on Lap 101. The cars made slight contact and Power’s No. 1 Verizon Team Penske 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.

“I was surprised at how aggressively he turned, but he wanted to win the race and so did I.”

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).

“It was a fight between our two guys in front. It was just an amazing weekend,” team owner Roger 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.”

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.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished seventh in the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport car, was the highest-placing Honda entry. Last year at St. Petersburg, Power held Hunter-Reay at bay on Laps 78-110 to make an opening-round statement on the way to earning his first series title.

Verizon IndyCar Series Race – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

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

Race Statistics

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. .

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