This race featured everything anyone would want in an auto race including drama, tremendous storylines, outstanding completion, a daring pass for the win in the final portion of the race and a popular winner.
And none of it was artificial, contrived of manipulated.
“It was actually about the racing. What’s that about?” Michael Andretti quipped after the race. “It was great. It was an all-out fight. Those guys were running flat out the whole time. That’s what racing’s all about. It was fun that Helio was keeping the pressure on there. You didn’t know until the last stop what was going to happen, Marco and all that with his tires going off. That’s what makes this series so great.
“The racing product is the best in the world.”
Hinchcliffe has the complete package to become the next big star in IndyCar. He is a tremendous driver and he has a great personality.
“It’s good for all of us,” Andretti said. “He is such a great personality. He’s not only a great personality, but he also performs on the racetrack. You got it all. That’s a great thing to have. I’m so happy and proud he’s part of our team.
I’m excited. I’m glad he finally broke the ice. This isn’t going to be his only win I don’t think.”
Castroneves led two times for 42 laps in the 110-lap contest but fell short of winning his fourth Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg by 1.098 seconds.
“I knew Hinch was really good especially in the Mickey Mouse Section as I call it,” Castroneves said. “He was very strong there. As long as I was in front of him it was going to be fine. Maybe I didn’t warm up my tires enough. It was just a small mistake.
“I guess the old dogs still make mistakes. I still have a lot to learn.”
Coming to the green flag on the restart on lap 85, everyone anticipated that Hinchcliffe was coming. And when he did, there was no stopping his green and black machine as he pulled off “The Pass.”
“I’d like to say it was some masterful trickery,” Hinchcliffe said. “I think Helio got a little hot in there. It’s tough. That late in the race, the inside line gets dirty. I had to restart from both the inside and the outside at different points in the race, and it’s tough. Being on new tires, on the outside, I was able to brake quite late. I saw him make the mistake and go wide. I’ll wait a couple laps, he’s on reds, I watched him walk away from me in the last stint. I figured he was going by. I was doing my own thing, trying to conserve my fuel and tires to make sure I could make it to the end. It’s a long stint at the end of the race there. Ten laps into that stint, he’s still there, but he’s not attacking. So the big thing for me was just be absolutely inch perfect all the way around the track lap after lap. I knew I had a couple more overtakes, so that was going to help.
“Yeah, at the end of the day it was just putting the focus in the right places at the right times. Those last four laps, like I said, we were able to gap it a bit and that’s when it kind of became real.”