After a rain-soaked qualifying session on Friday, Sebastian Saavedra started the first-ever Indianapolis GP from pole, seemingly ready to run the race of his life. Until the race started, anyway- that’s when Saavedra stalled out on the front row, forcing drivers to swerve wildly to avoid the
rookie’s parked car. Starting too far back to see what had happened, Carlos Muñoz never had a chance. Muñoz clipped Saavedra’s Chevy-powered Dallara and set off a scary-looking wreck that marred the start of the race.
Also, it kinda made Saavedra look stupid- even if the ABC announcers were quick to call the botched start a “technical failure”.
Once the initial carnage cleared, it was actual rookie Jack Hawksworth’s time to shine. The young driver put in a number of lead laps and looked every bit as convincing as his front-row starting position implied.
A Scott Dixon-induced yellow closed up the field and re-shuffled the running order around Hawksworth. At the end, it was the talented Simon Pagenaud who won the day after a nail-biting final few laps of fuel-saving brilliance. The fuel situation was so dire for Pagenaud, in fact, that he didn’t have enough E85 in his Honda’s tank to celebrate hard-earned win with the usual, celebratory happy-time donuts.
Pagenaud finished just ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay and a very hard-charging Helio Castroneves, who probably would have won this first Indianapolis GP if it had gone one or two more laps. Sebastien Bourdais finished a season-high fourth, while Charlie Kimball jumped 18 positions (relative to his starting position) to finish fifth.