INDIANAPOLIS – 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.
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 polesitter 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.