Power notches first win of 2014 at Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IndyCar, IndyCar News/Releases, INDYCAR PR — By on March 30, 2014 11:02 pm

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “We made some big improvements in the warm up this morning and I really felt we had a strong car to get after it.The Boy Scouts of America car was running pretty good. The Dale Coyne Racing guys did a great job giving me the clear track early on because the car was fast. I was just hoping to get a bit more of a clear track! It seemed really difficult to get by people today. With the alternate strategy, we were running hard in clean air and I was just trying to make the most of it. At one stage I was managing fuel, managing tires and managing the brakes, as well as trying to run as fast as I could! So it was a tough balancing act trying not to use up too much of the car early on.”

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 98 Charter / Castrol Edge): “It wasn’t the end to the race that we wanted, unfortunately. It was really out of our control and took us out of the race. I just want to say that the guys did a great job. We had some really good pace on the reds and I think that’s promising, going forward. Now we just go to Long Beach and hopefully we get what we deserve but overall it was a positive day up until then.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “It was a good day a little strange at times. Not really sure where we were at times but we just hung in there position wish and kept pushing 110% and just had a good little fight with Helio (Castroneves) there and got by him. Will was really good! We were matching each other there at the end lap for lap so I was pushing as hard as I possibly could. I couldn’t catch him. But good points today for the #28 DHL Honda. We are happy to start the season out this way and happy to go to Long Beach.”

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Honda): “I think the biggest struggle was the start. After the start I was close to being lost in the first corner but we had good strategy and a quick pace that helped us climb through the field. I think the team did a great job today. The car was very good and all of our pit stops were smooth. We were a bit unlucky with the yellows but that’s just racing. Overall I’m very happy because we were close to a top-10 and we know we have a good race car. And now that I have experience with how a rolling start works I’ll be ready for it the next race. I’m happy to be the highest finishing rookie today too.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Florida Lottery/SFH Racing Honda): “Today was a good day. A great points day. We started really buried in the field. Starting 22nd is not ideal and we had a really tough go on Saturday. That just put us on the back foot for the race. What we need to do is qualify better and have a better weekend as a whole. We kept fighting, there are a lot of fighters on this team who never give up. We scored a top-10 finish which is wonderful. It’s good points, you have to be scoring top-10 finishes every weekend. I’m really pleased with that, it’s a great way to start the year. It was nice having Florida Lottery on the car this weekend, they were really supportive, and everyone involved in our effort this weekend I think is pretty happy with our finish.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “I will take it. Obviously I started the race, the qualifying was a little tricky for us but I knew I had a very fast car, no question. And I was pushing as hard as I could during the race. Unfortunately, one of the restarts was a poker game with Will. But you know its ok, its good. He was fast in the end and it was very difficult to push it. Plus with the tires that we had to scuffed at the end, it turned out to be a great race. I have to thank Roger for a great, great start and the Hitachi boys for great pit stops. I was pushing so hard, I was even thinking and at the end with about 10 laps to go I had a big moment in Turn 10 , I said RP I think this is the end of the tires and we just need to bring it home. Great effort for everyone and certainly we want to win the championship so this is a good start.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda): “It’s important when you are going for a championship, you realize you can’t compete for the win to get everything out of it. And today we got the best out of the car. We certainly had a top 5 car and finished 5th. So it isn’t a bad day when you build championship contention. Power won today but were in really good shape. Happy to start this way.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think it went pretty good. We were just burning up the rear tires with the setup that we decided to run. It was just a little too aggressive. You know, we will learn and pass some people and some people passed us. There are a few things we have to do better but I didn’t feel my pace was too bad there at the end. I was keeping up with everybody and it was good. (How does it feel to be back in open wheel?): “Fun! It’s going to be a lot of work but I am very excited.”

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 AFS KVAFS Chevrolet): “I am happy with how the first race of the season went. Unfortunately we didn’t have the pace at the end but after where we started at the weekend, I am pleased with the 11th position points in the bank. At the end it was a survival race. We had a strong stint on the reds, the blacks were not very quick and that really caused us to drop places and that last stint was a big battle to the end. I’m very proud of my KV AFS boys, everybody did an amazing job in the pits. We just need to keep focusing and prepare for Long Beach in a couple of weeks’ time.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “It was a tough race. Guys from back of the grid ruined the start of the race and I lost four positions on the first lap. I also bumped into Juan Pablo Montoya when the field checked up in Turn 8. I ended up having to pit to replace my front wing on lap 12, which was very early and forced me to save a lot of fuel for the entire race. Despite all that, we were going to have a really good result because we had a rocket ship for a car. Then just as I was going to make my third stop the track went yellow, so I had to stay out. When I finally pitted I was out of fuel and the car stalled, but we were still in a good position and I knew I had a fast car. Then I was penalized for not packing up fast enough, which was pretty rough because I was packed up before the pits opened and no one was harmed. That really set us back, but we kept digging. It was such a valiant effort by the whole team and to finish where we started is very frustrating. I really feel bad for the guys because they worked so hard and for all our sponsors who came to the race and supported us. The only positive note is that we have a fast car so our time will come.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Snapple Honda): “Yeah, it’s hard to see because I was pretty far back, but Will just stopped. Once you go, you gotta go. It was a bit of an accordion effect, and I just got caught up. That’s what happens when you’re in the back, so I’ve really got no one to blame but myself.” (About the comment that the flag man allegedly waved the green flag early): “That’s why you don’t have an acceleration cone. I’m not complaining, but the leader should dictate it. He probably questioned himself because he might have gotten penalized or something, but you should penalize the leader, he can go when he wants.”

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