Will Power wins IndyCar opener as streak continues

Reuters| Updated: Mar 31, 2014, 10:32 AM IST

Florida: Australian Will Power picked up where he left off last year with a win, steering his Penske to victory in the IndyCar season-opener at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix in Florida on Sunday.

Power, who won the final two races of the 2013 campaign, set the early pace for 2014, crossing 1.9 seconds ahead of American Ryan Hunter-Reay and his Penske Brazilian team mate Helio Castroneves to register is his 22nd career IndyCar win.

"That`s how you want to start the season," said Power, who started fourth on the grid. "I worked so hard in the offseason.

"We came into the season wanting to win a championship for (team owner) Roger (Penske).

"The field is so tight that I`m just happy we had a good race car."

Reigning series champion New Zealander Scott Dixon was fourth while Frenchman Simon Pagenaud completed the top five.

Indianapolis 500 winner Brazilian Tony Kanaan, stepping into the Target Chip Ganassi seat left vacant after Dario Franchitti`s career-ending crash, was sixth ahead of pole sitter Takuma Sato, who led the first 26 laps of the 110-lap race through the streets of St. Petersburg.

Juan Pablo Montoya, winner of the 2000 Indy 500 before leaving to race on the Formula One and NASCAR circuits, was 15th in his return to the IndyCar series,

"I think it went pretty good," said the Colombian. "We were just burning up the rear tires with the setup that we decided to run. It was just a little too aggressive.

"There are a few things we have to do better but I didn`t feel my pace was too bad there at the end.

"It`s going to be a lot of work but I am very excited."