INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Simon Pagenaud had just enough fuel left to make history, winning the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Pagenaud, who started fourth in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car, held off Ryan Hunter-Reay by .8906 of a second for his third career Verizon IndyCar Series victory and a charging Helio Castroneves, who was celebrating his 39th birthday, by 1.8244 seconds.
"This car was unbelievable," said Pagenaud. "The engine. The fuel we're saving is amazing. With the pace it was nerve-wracking. I've got to tell you, I was worried about Helio (Castroneves) coming back and I didn't know what (Ryan) Hunter- Reay was doing either, so I just kept working. My lap time was saving fuel, being off throttle. I don't like racing off throttle. But it worked out, thanks to the whole (Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports) team. I think it's amazing. The car that they provided me this weekend was definitely the fastest, and we got the win, so thanks to everybody"
Like Pagenaud, Hunter-Reay's No. 28 DHL car was starved for fuel after completing 28 laps. Castroneves, who started 10th in the No. 3 Verizon Team Penske car, had plenty of fuel and was closing in the final laps, but couldn't get around Hunter-Reay.
Hunter-Reay finished second, followed by Castroneves, Sebastien Bourdais and Charlie Kimball.
Oriol Servia was leading with five laps to go but had to pit before he ran out of fuel. That handed the lead to Pagenaud, who also was at risk of running short.
The start was marred by a massive crash when pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra stalled and was hit hard in the rear by the cars of Carlos Munoz and Mikhail Aleshin.
There were 12 lead changes, and Pagenaud inherited the point for the duration on Lap 78 when Oriol Servia had to make a fuel stop. He led Hunter-Reay across the line by 2.8 seconds on Lap 80 and coaxed the Honda-powered car to navigate the final laps without incident or stalling.
Both Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud gained on championship points leader Will Power, who started fifth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car and placed a season-low eighth. Power (149) leads Hunter-Reay by one point and Pagenaud by six heading into the points-laden Indianapolis 500 on May 25.
Verizon IndyCar Series
Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Indianapolis, IN
Grand Prix of Indianapolis - May 10, 2014
1. (4) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
2. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
3. (10) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
4. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
5. (23) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
6. (14) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
7. (2) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
8. (5) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
9. (16) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
10. (9) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
11. (18) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
12. (22) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
13. (17) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
14. (13) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 82, Running
15. (6) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 82, Running
16. (8) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 81, Running
17. (15) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
18. (20) Martin Plowman, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
19. (24) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 58, Mechanical
20. (11) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 56, Contact
21. (12) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 50, Contact
22. (21) Franck Montagny, Dallara-Honda, 47, Contact
23. (19) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact
24. (1) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 0, Contact
25. (25) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact
Winners average speed: 96.462
Time of Race: 02:04:24.0261
Margin of victory: 0.8906 of a second
Cautions: 4 for 19 laps
Lead changes: 12 among 8 drivers
Hawksworth 10 - 27
Wilson 29 - 30
Hawksworth 31 - 43
Hunter-Reay 45 -51
Wilson 52 - 53
Castroneves 55 - 69
Servia 71 - 77
Pagenaud 78 - 82
Power 149, Hunter-Reay 148, Pagenaud 143, Castroneves 102, Dixon 102, Conway 93, Andretti 89, Wison 87, Kanaan 82, Bourdais 80.