April 16, 2012 in Sports

Power goes from 12th to first in Long Beach win

 
Associated Press photo

Scott Dixon leads a group of cars into the first turn at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
(Full-size photo)

It doesn’t seem to make a difference where Will Power starts an IndyCar race anymore.

No matter how far back in the field he goes, he’s managing to find his way to the front.

Power earned his second consecutive victory Sunday, keeping Penske Racing perfect on the season, by picking his way through the field to drive from 12th to first in the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.). Even though he drove from ninth to the victory at Barber two weeks ago, Power didn’t think he could do it again.

“I go into every season thinking that there’s no way I can win another race,” the Australian said. “I don’t know why I feel like that, but I do. I guess I have an insecurity or something or I don’t believe in myself enough.”

That seems sort of silly, though, considering Sunday’s win was the 17th of Power’s career and moved him into the points lead. He pulled it off by working his way through traffic on a street circuit where passing is difficult, conserving fuel over the final 31 laps – three laps past his fuel window – and holding off hard-charging rookie Simon Pagenuad at the end.

So just where does Power have to start to guarantee he won’t win?

“Pole. If you get on pole you won’t win,” he said. “We’ve experienced that a number of times here and many other tracks.”

Sure enough, Power had started on the pole the last three years and failed to win at Long Beach. Not this time, as he gave Penske its first win at Long Beach since 2001 and kept the team perfect in three races this season. Helio Castroneves won the opener at St. Pete, Power won the last two races, and they’ve combined with teammate Ryan Briscoe to win all three poles.

But their starting positions were scrambled Sunday because all 11 Chevrolet teams were penalized by IndyCar after the manufacturer decided to yank all its engines as a precautionary measure. The punishment was the loss of 10 spots on the starting grid, so Chevy officials did not make the engine change lightly because they knew it would put rival manufacturer Honda in strong position to win its first race of the year.

Instead, Chevrolet drivers claimed 10 of the first 14 positions and had six of the top seven spots.

Chevrolet IndyCar program manager Chris Berube called it a showcase of “determination, talent and spirit of cooperation of Team Chevy.”

James Hinchcliffe finished a career-best third.

Truck Series

Kasey Kahne celebrated NASCAR’s return to Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway with a win in the Truck Series race.

The track was purchased at auction by Andy Hillenburg, and he successfully brought NASCAR back. The truck race was the first NASCAR-sanctioned event at The Rock since 2004.

Kahne held off James Buescher for the win. Kahne had to start at the back of the field because he didn’t qualify the truck Saturday while at the Sprint Cup race in Texas.

It was the fourth win in five career Truck Series races for Kahne, who finished seventh in the Sprint Cup race.

Matt Crafton was third, followed by Johnny Sauter and series points leader Timothy Peters.

Formula One

Mercedes-Benz driver Nico Rosberg won the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai for his first career Formula One victory after starting from pole.

Rosberg won by a staggering 20.6 seconds over McLaren’s Jenson Button after making just two pits stops and managing to hold off the rest of the field on worn tires.

Button’s McLaren teammate, Lewis Hamilton, was third, followed by the Red Bull duo of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel, the defending champion, started 11th and at one stage moved up to second, but couldn’t hold off Button, Hamilton and Webber in the closing stages.

Hamilton took the lead in the driver standings with 45 points, two ahead of Button. Fernando Alonso of Ferrari is third with 37 points, followed by Webber (36) and Vettel (28). Rosberg is sixth with 25.

NHRA

Robert Hight became the fifth Funny Car driver to win four straight races, beating John Force, Cruz Pedregon and Ron Capps in the final of the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C.

Hight had a 4.076-second run at 314.83 mph in his John Force Racing Ford Mustang in the unique event features racing in four lanes instead of the traditional two.

Force, Pedregon, Don Prudhomme and Kenny Bernstein also have won four straight Funny Car events.

Hight has 27 career victories.

Spencer Massey won the Top Fuel competition, and Greg Anderson topped the Pro Stock field.


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