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IndyCar: Belle Isle, Race 1 – Munoz nabs first career win in wet

Photo: Chris Jones

The start of Race 1 was moved up in an attempt to beat the arrival of even heavier rain than was already underway. Will Power (#1 Team Penske, Chevy) and Helio Castroneves (#3 Penske) made up Row 1, with Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya complete the Penske lockdown of the Top 3 starting spots. Takuma Sato (#14 AJ Foyt Enterprises, Honda) started fourth.

The 70-lap race was given a 2-hr time limit before it started, with a single-file start also declared. Sato passed Montoya for third during the first lap. Sato moved into the lead during Lap 3. A full-course caution came out one lap later, Sato leading Power and Castroneves. The green flag flew to start Lap 6.

Not even a lap was completed before Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal, and James Jakes came together, Jakes having been nudged by Stefano Coletti. Racing resumed on Lap 12. Charlie Kimball was among those who switched to slick tires during the subsequent pit stops, but put his car into the all to bring out another caution two laps later.

Sato pitted from the lead to put on slick tires, with  Power following, cycling Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport, Honda) and Jack Hawksworth (AJ Foyt) to the front. Lap 24 saw the restart. Two laps later, debris on the track prompted another caution. Racing resumed on Lap 29. Castroneves pitted to take wet tires as heavy rain loomed.  

Lap 34 returned the cars to live action. Andretti suffered engine issues and started to fall through the field, Hawksworth taking the lead followed by Coletti. Both pitted during Lap 35, putting Power on the point and Andretti chasing him, having gotten full power back. Power pitted two laps later. Andretti’s crew chief, dad Michael, told him to “follow Will.” He did not, remaining on track and taking the lead.

Andretti stayed on track on slicks for another lap, followed by Carlos Munoz (#26 Andretti) and Simon Pagenaud (#22 Penske), lapping 10 sec/lap faster than those already on wets. Dixon radioed to the pits and told them his rains were already shot. Andretti and Pagenaud pitted during Lap 41 for fuel and changed to wet tired. Munoz remained on track taking the lead, Andretti and Pagenaud exiting the pits behind him but ahead of the rest of the field.

Munoz eventually pitted himself for wets, but still held a 28-sec lead before a full-course caution came out during Lap 47. Lightning brought out a red flag a few minutes later. The race did not resume and Munoz took his first career victory, followed by Andretti and Pagenaud.

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