Shell & Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers Race 1 Report

6/28/2014 11:27:00 PM

Circuit: NRG Park (1.63-mile temporary street circuit) Houston, Texas
2013 Winners:
Race 1 Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) 76.856 mph average
Race 2 Will Power (Team Penske Chevrolet) 78.444 mph average
Weather: Sporadic rain showers, humid, 82 degrees F

Top 10 Race Results:

Fn. St. Driver Team Engine-Chassis Laps Average Speed/Notes
1. 19. Carlos Huertas-R Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dallara 80 70.389 mph avg.; led 7 laps
2. 11. Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Chevrolet Dallara 80 +0.0975 seconds (under caution)
3. 23. Carlos Munoz-R Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara 80  
4. 9. Sebastien Bourdais KV-SH Racing Chevrolet Dallara 80  
5. 5. James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara 80 Led 32 laps
6. 21. Jack Hawksworth-R Bryan Herta Autosport Honda Dallara 80  
7. 8. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara 80  
8. 16. Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara 80  
9. 2. Helio Castroneves Team Penske Chevrolet Dallara 80  
10. 7. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dallara 80 Led 15 laps
Other Honda-powered Results:
11. 14. Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda Dallara 80 Penalized 30 seconds for contact
16. 1. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Honda Dallara 74 Running; led 4 laps
20. 12. Josef Newgarden Sarah Fisher Hartman Honda Dallara 41 Did not finish – contact
21. 4. Luca Filippi-R Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda Dallara 36 Did not finish – crash
22. 6. Takuma Sato A.J. Foyt Racing Honda Dallara 32 Did not finish – crash; led 22 laps
23. 10. Mikhail Aleshin-R Schmidt Peterson Honda Dallara 32 Did not finish – crash

 

Rookie Huertas Wins for Honda in Houston

  • Fuel strategy pays off for Dale Coyne Racing driver
  • Honda drivers claim seven of top 10 positions
  • Pagenaud qualifies on pole for Honda

Honda-powered rookie Carlos Huertas won Saturday's opening race of the Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers, "double header" Verizon IndyCar Series race weekend, taking his Dale Coyne Racing machine to victory in an 80-lap event that featured constantly changing weather conditions.

Today's race was marked by a brief, heavy rain shower less than half an hour before the scheduled start, leading officials to declare the event a "wet race", requiring teams to start on rain tires and for the race to become a one hour, 50-minute timed event. The wet/dry conditions also contributed to a total of six caution flags and multiple pit stop strategies through the field.

The early laps were dominated by Detroit pole qualifier Takuma Sato, driving for hometown legend A.J. Foyt Racing. But Sato's run ended after 32 laps when he tangled with the lapped car of Mikhail Aleshin.  James Hinchcliffe then took over at the front, as Honda-powered drivers led all 80 laps of today's race. Pole qualifier Simon Pagenaud also led the first four laps of today's race, until brake problems and a long pit stop to repair suspension damage from contact dropped him to a 16th-place result.

A decision by Huertas' Dale Coyne Racing team to make an early final pit stop proved decisive, as Huertas first followed teammate Justin Wilson for 15 laps, then assumed a lead he would not relinquish when Wilson made his final stop on Lap 73. The victory is the fourth of the season for Honda, and the first for Huertas in his rookie season of IndyCar competition.

Following Huertas to the checkers were fellow Columbians Juan Pablo Montoya and Carlos Munoz as Honda-powered drivers – four of them rookies – claimed seven of the top-10 finishing positions.

In addition to Huertas and Munoz, James Hinchcliffe led 32 laps en route to a fifth-place finish in his Andretti Autosport Honda, with Honda drivers Jack Hawksworth, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti finishing sixth through eighth, respectively. Wilson's late-race pit stop ended his chances of victory today, but the veteran still rounded out the top 10 finishers. 

Janice Charlene Vaughn, from Reelsville, Indiana, led the field prior to today's race start in the two-seat Honda Indy car driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk. For more information on the Honda Fastest Seat in Sports sweepstakes, go to www.shophonda.com.

Video News Releases from this weekend's action in Houston are being posted on a "Honda Racing/HPD Trackside" YouTube channel produced by the Carolinas Production Group. CPG will be providing video highlight packages following Honda Racing/HPD events during 2014.  The video packages can be found at: youtube.com/hondaracingtrackside.

Today's race was the first of a double header weekend in Houston. Sunday's 90-lap contest starts at 3 p.m. EDT, with live television coverage on the NBC Sports Network.

Verizon IndyCar Series Drivers' Championship (after 9 of 18 rounds):

1. Will Power 386 points (2 wins) 6. Carlos Munoz 262
2. Helio Castroneves 353 (1 win) 7. Marco Andretti 259
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay 336 (2 wins) 8. Scott Dixon 235
4. Simon Pagenaud 293 (1 win) 9. Justin Wilson 202
5. Juan Pablo Montoya 263 10. Tony Kanaan 196

 

Manufacturers' Championship:

1. Chevrolet 1,167 (5 wins)
2. Honda 874 (4 wins) 

Carlos Huertas (#18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda) Houston Race 1 winner:  "For sure, it is always possible to win, but today was really tough. I had no pace at all during the first half of the race, but our car became much better as the race continued. The team did a great job, and these races are so long that you always have a chance to win if you do the right thing at the right time. We made all the right calls today, and this is a great victory both for my team and myself."

Tom Reichenbach (Senior Manager, Chief Engineer, Technical Division) on today's race win: "Whenever you have a rain race, it's crazy.  And today the conditions were tough for everyone. You just have to be on top of it, and be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities whenever they come.  Dale Coyne Racing made the right calls, had their drivers in the right place at the right time and it worked out in a victory.  Congratulations to Carlos [Huertas] and the team, and to everyone at HPD.  Now let's go out and get another win tomorrow."

For photos from today's race, go to:

http://broadcast.sportssystems.com/hosting/display.cfm?key=101720