Will Power kicked off the Verizon IndyCar season in style with a convincing win in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The Australian passed pole-sitter Takuma Sato after 30 laps and was untroubled for the rest of the race, finishing just under two seconds ahead of 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.
"I'm stoked to get the first win for Verizon as a series sponsor," said Power. "That's how you want to start the season. Last year was horrible, and this year it's good to get a points lead."
Power's Penske team mate Helio Castroneves finished thrid after being passed by Hunter-Reay on lap 88, whilst defending champion Scott Dixon came home fourth.
Simon Pagenaud battled through the field to finish fifth. The Frenchman started the race from 13th on the grid after changing wether conditions in qualifying left the two time race winner off the pace.
The race went caution free for most of the race, until Charlie Kimball ran wide at turn one, bringing out the yellow flags.
A calamitous restart on lap 82 brought about yet another caution. A slow Will Power caused the field to buch up, resulting in rookie Jack Hawksworth collecting Marco Andretti, taking both out of the race.
Former Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya had a tough first outing for the Penske team, his Chevrolet powered Dallara struggling to look after it's rear tyres throughout the race.
"I think it went pretty good. We were just burning up the rear tires with the setup that we decided to run. It was just a little too aggressive." He said. "There are a few things we have to do better but I didn't feel my pace was too bad there at the end. I was keeping up with everybody and it was good."
The Verizon IndyCar series resumes in two weeks time with the Long Beach Grand Prix, where St. Pete pole man Takuma Sato will be looking to repeat his win last year on the west coast streets.