Rewind: 2013 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

By: Spencer Neff
February 24, 2022

The 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season is upon us. For the first time since 2019, the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course in St. Petersburg, Florida returns as the season opener, beginning the 16-round season this Sunday.

Ahead of Sunday’s race, the 19th held on the popular Florida circuit and the 12th time it will be the season opener, IndyCar1909 turns back the clock for the latest edition of Rewind. Today, we’ll look back at the 2013 race.

Hinchcliffe scores long-awaited first win

March 24, 2013 represented the beginning of the 19-race 2013 IZOD INDYCAR SERIES calendar and an opportunity for the 25 drivers on the grid to prove something.

After beating Takuma Sato (making his debut for A.J. Foyt Racing), Team Penske’s Will Power earned his fourth consecutive pole on the temporary course. Looking to begin his journey for a championship that eluded him the season finale each of the prior three years, Power took off and led the opening 26 laps.

Power continued his qualifying dominance, earning his 30th career pole (Chris Jones/INDYCAR)

On Lap 20, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti brought out the first yellow of the day, as the 2011 race winner smacked the wall in Turn 8, ending his day. As the caution flag was brought out, the initial set of pit stops began but Power held the lead.

On Lap 27, his teammate Helio Castroneves made his past for the lead. The defending race winner set his sights on a fourth win. Further back in the field, the carnage continued as JR Hildebrand and Sebastian Saavedra collided in Turn 10. With Hildebrand unable to continue without assistance, the second caution flag of the day was out.

After the Lap 33 restart, Power was unable to reciprocate Castroneves’ pass on him and James Hinchcliffe swept past for second. A Lap 45 debris caution was extended through Lap 53 after Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden stalled with clutch issues. Following Dreyer and Reinbold Racing’s Oriol Servia spending 16 laps at the front while on a different pit strategy from the leaders.

With 49 laps to go, Castroneves made his way to the lead again while clutch issues derailed Servia’s run. Three laps later, throttle issues put a damper on the beginning of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s championship defense.

Hinchcliffe kept Castroneves at bay during the final 26 laps (Chris Jones/INDYCAR)

After becoming the first driver to utilize the No. 1 since reunification (while keeping the 28 he utilized in tribute of his mother’s death from cancer), the Andretti Autosport driver was sidelined after completing 79 of 110 scheduled laps.

With 37 laps to go, Saavedra collided with the tire barrier in Turn 10, forcing the fourth and last caution of the afternoon. Under the caution, Hildebrand drove over the back of Power’s car, ending his day while damaging Power’s right-rear. Power continued on despite veering off track late in the race but finished 16th, three laps down.

As Castroneves had done to Power, Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe would do to him on the Lap 85 restart, outbraving and passing him in Turn 1.

From there, the race stayed green and the Oakville, Ontario, Canada native never looked back, earning his first career win after finishing 1.098 seconds ahead of Castroneves. For the outgoing driver in his third season, the victory proved to be monumental for a variety of reasons.

In his second season driving what previously was slated to be Dan Wheldon’s 2012 ride before his fatal accident at Las Vegas on October 16, 2011.

Hichcliffe is joined by Castroneves and Andretti on the podium (John Cote/INDYCAR)

On a day when his widow Susie waved the green flag, the 2005 race winner’s team earned the victory in his adopted hometown. Joining Hinchcliffe and Castroneves on the podium would be Marco Andretti, giving Chevrolet their third podium sweep in their 16th race back and their first on a road or street course since their return the previous season.

Analysis

Hinchcliffe’s victory helped cement his standing as he began his third season of IndyCar. Later in the year, he’d add wins at São Paulo and Iowa. This season, the six-time race winner steps away from the cockpit and will join the NBC Sports booth as analyst with Townsend Bell and lap-by-lap anchor Leigh Diffey.

Castroneves will begin his first full-time season outside of Penske since 1999 (Hogan Racing). The Meyer Shank Racing driver will pilot the 06, which he took to his record-tying fourthIndianapolis 500 in May. Now, he will be joined by Simon Pagenaud, who previously teamed with Castroneves at Penske from 2015-2020.

After rebounding from a disappointing start to 2013, Power won three of the last five races but fell short of the championship by 79 points, earning a fourth-place finish.

Hinchcliffe enjoys the celebration of his first INDYCAR win (Shawn Gritzmacher/INDYCAR)

In 2014, the Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia native took a dominating win at St. Petersburg as a springboard to his first title.

It also made him the first driver since Cristiano da Matta (2001-2002) to win the final two races of a season and the season opener the next year. Power also can extend his track record with a ninth pole this weekend (he did not start due to a concussion 2016 so his pole there is not credited to him).

If Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta wins this weekend, he would join Power, da Matta, Gordon Johncock (1977-78) and Bill Cummings (1933-34) as the only drivers to accomplish that.

Header Image By Shawn Gritzmacher/INDYCAR

Published by Spencer Neff

I am a lifelong auto racing fan. Through IndyCar1909, I look forward to sharing my passion for the series and its illustrious history with you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: