Photo: John Cole
Team Penske (powered by Chevrolet) locked down the first four spots on the starting grid for the start of the 2015 IndyCar season. The four were also quickest in every practice session. Will Power (#1) was on pole, with the newest member of the team, Simon Pagenaud (#22), next to him. Helio Castroneves (#3) and Juan Pablo Montoya (#2) made up Row 2. Takuma Sato (#14 AJ Foyt Racing-Honda) was both the first non-Penske and non-Chevy qualifier. Sebastien Bourdais (#11 KVSH Racing-Chevy) started on the outside of the third row.
A full-course yellow came out toward the end of Lap 1to clear bodywork from the track. All cars remained in competition, the large first lap wreck that has marked 5 of the 10 St. Pete races not occurring this time. Power led Castroneves, Pagenaud, and Sato under caution. Green flag action returned to start Lap 6 (of 110).
Montoya took P4 from Sato on the restart. 10 laps in Power led Castroneves by 3.1092 sec and Pagenaud by 4.3811 sec. Power pitted from the lead during Lap 23, most of the rest of the field coming in as well. Power cycled back to the front, leading Castroneves. Sato’s Foyt-teammate Jack Hawksworth ran third, ahead of Pagenaud, having pitted during the caution to replace his front wing.
A second caution flew shortly after the pit stops, again to remove debris, with the above running order in place. The green flag flew to start Lap 33. Montoya and Pagenaud both made it past Hawksworth on the restart, the caution flying again before the lap was over. Green flag racing resumed and running Lap 42 Montoya led Castroneves by 1.461 sec and Montoya by 2.503.
A full-course caution waved during Lap 47 due to contact between James Jakes and Simona Di Silvestro. Sage Karam (#8 Chip Ganassi Racing-Chevy) and Hawksworth didn’t pit under the caution and started at the front when action resumed during Lap 54. Power, who started fourth, passed first Montoya and then both the others to retake the lead. Charlie Kimball got punted from behind before the lap was completed and the yellow flew again. Pagenaud suffered contact as well.
Power, Montoya, and Karam ran 1-2-3 under caution. Hawksworth took third from Karam on the Lap 59 restart. With 40 laps to go Power led Montoya by 0.6870 sec and Tony Kanaan (#10 Ganassi) by 8.1586, Hawksworth having pitted. Montoya pitted from second with 29 laps left. Power and Kanaan followed suit one lap later. Castroneves assumed the lead before pitting as well.
Montoya assumed the lead via the pit cycle, holding a 3 sec lead with 26 laps to go. Power’s pit crew neglected to promptly pull the rear jack during his stop, extending it slightly. Hawksworth ran third with 17 left. He pitted and Kanaan returned to P3 with 11 to go. Power tried passing Montoya but couldn’t complete the move and lost a winglet in contact with his teammate.
Montoya led by 1.3912 sec with 8 laps left. Kanaan was another 8 sec back. This order remained in place at the end of the race, with the other two Penske machines fourth (Castroneves) and fifth Pagenaud.