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Will Power wins 3rd straight Sao Paulo 300

Published: Monday, April 30 2012 12:36 a.m. MDT

IndyCar driver Will Power, right front, of Australia steers his car on the IndyCar's Sao Paulo 300 track, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012.  (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press) IndyCar driver Will Power, right front, of Australia steers his car on the IndyCar's Sao Paulo 300 track, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press)

SAO PAULO — Will Power loves racing in Brazil.

Power had a flawless race to win IndyCar's Sao Paulo 300 for the third straight time Sunday, extending his dominance on the streets of South America's biggest city.

The Australian was hardly challenged at the 2.5-mile, 11-turn Anhembi circuit, taking control of the race from the start to finish ahead of American Ryan Hunter Reay.

"I think I love Brazil, I love Sao Paulo," Power said.

Japan's Takuma Sato had a great run to finish third for his first podium after starting only 25th and overcoming a drive-thru penalty, while Brazilian Helio Castroneves was fourth after starting 18th. Three-time defending series champion Dario Franchitti recovered from an early spin to finish fifth.

It was Power's third straight victory after four races this season, and Penske's fourth straight. It is the first time the team wins four in a row to start the season, dating to the introduction of CART in 1979. Penske also won the first three races of the year in 2010.

IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, right, celebrates his victory at the winner's podium with  Ryan Hunter-Reay, of the U.S, who places second, in the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press) IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, right, celebrates his victory at the winner's podium with Ryan Hunter-Reay, of the U.S, who places second, in the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press)

Power became the first driver since Scott Dixon in 2007 to win three consecutive races. It was the Australian's 18th career victory at IndyCar.

"Something is clicking there very well," Hunter-Reay said. "I don't think it's a coincidence at all that they've won as many as they've won this season. Three out of four, that's astonishing."

Power led the most laps and clearly was faster than the rest of the field on Sunday, but had to fend off Hunter-Reay on a couple of late restarts, including one with five laps to go. Power crossed the line less than a second ahead of the American.

"I was giving absolutely everything I had to keep Ryan behind," said Power, who started from the pole position. "A solid day when you look at it, very solid, no mistakes."

Last year, Power won from the pole in a race postponed for a day because of heavy rain. He won the inaugural Sao Paulo 300 in 2010, passing Hunter-Reay with three laps to go to win the rain-shortened race.

IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, right, celebrates his victory at the winner's podium with  Ryan Hunter-Reay, of the U.S, who places second, in the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press) IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, right, celebrates his victory at the winner's podium with Ryan Hunter-Reay, of the U.S, who places second, in the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press)

Power was coming off victories in Alabama and Long Beach and his triumph in Sao Paulo helped him increase his series points lead heading into the Indy 500 next month. He has a 45-point lead over Castroneves, the best Brazilian at the Anhembi circuit on Sunday.

"Definitely good for the points, the biggest one is next race and we'll try to make it four in a row," he said.

Japan's Sato surprised with his third-place finish after starting back in the grid because of an engine change. He also overcame a drive-thru penalty on lap 12, using a three-stop strategy and being aggressive on restarts to move to the front.

"Will was just about lapping me when I had a drive-thru penalty, so we were really luck," Sato said. "It was an eventful and very exciting race. Every restart really helped me a lot."

IndyCar driver Will Power of Australia, right, Ryan Hunter-Reay of the U.S., center and Takuma Sato, of Japan, celebrate their first, second and third place wins at the IndyCar's Sao Paulo 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press) IndyCar driver Will Power of Australia, right, Ryan Hunter-Reay of the U.S., center and Takuma Sato, of Japan, celebrate their first, second and third place wins at the IndyCar's Sao Paulo 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press)

Weather was a concern as it rained hard during the morning practice session and it was expected to rain all day on Sunday, but the race started and finished on a mostly dry track. There was a light drizzle during the race, but not enough to get the track wet. Rain had affected the Sao Paulo race every year since it joined the IndyCar calendar in 2010.

Eight drivers were involved in a crash at a restart with eight laps to go, and although there was little contact between the cars, the track was blocked as the cars tried to make it through the first chicane.

Dixon was on a different pit strategy and passed Power for the lead on lap 52 as the Australian came off the pits, but Dixon — who started third — had to make another stop at the end and finished only 17th.

Franchitti stayed close to Power in the beginning of the race but spun on a restart on lap 27. He apparently was touched from behind at the first chicane and lost control of his Chip Ganassi Racing car. He needed to use pit strategy to race back to the front to finish in the top five after starting second. It was his first top five of the season.

IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, right,  leads the pack during the start of the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press) IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, right, leads the pack during the start of the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press)

Ryan Briscoe's race ended when he hit the wall exiting a turn on lap 22, and Josef Newgarden was involved in an accident at chicane on a restart on lap 29.

Rubens Barrichello, in his first race at home since joining IndyCar this season after a 19-year career in Formula One, ran as high as third place but fell to 10th at the end.

"Unfortunately, because of all the caution flags our strategy didn't work out today, but it will some other day," he said.

UTAH GRAND PRIX: At Tooele, In last year's edition of the Utah Grand Prix, then-15-year-old Madison Snow of Pleasant Grove turned Miller Motorsports Park on its ear by winning two races in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama's Gold class. The series, which races Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars in two classes (Platinum for newer cars, Gold for older) had never had such a young winner.

IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, gets the checkered flag as he wins the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press) IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, gets the checkered flag as he wins the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press)

This year, at the seasoned-veteran age of 16, Snow moved up to the Platinum class, where the competition is tougher and the competitors more experienced. Despite the added difficulty, though, the results were the same in this year's Utah Grand Prix.

After winning overall in Saturday's first of two weekend races for the series, the youngster did it again on Sunday, taking the lead on the first lap and leading all the way to the checkered flag in his No. 62 Snow Racing

Wright Motorsports entry, posting a .510sec margin of victory over the No. 10 Wright Motorsports entry of stablemate Sean Johnston. The top three were the same as yesterday, with D. Bryce Miller completing the podium in his No. 35 GMG Racing entry.

However, Snow's storybook tale wasn't quite as remarkable today as yesterday. In Saturday's race, Madison's mother Melanie won the Gold class, marking the first time in memory that a mother-and-son team had won their respective classes in a professional automobile race. On Sunday, Melanie had to settle for second in class in her No. 56 Snow Racing

IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, jumps off his car at the winner's podium as he celebrates winning the the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press) IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, jumps off his car at the winner's podium as he celebrates winning the the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press)

Wright Motorsports entry, finishing 4.65sec in arrears of today's Gold class winner, Angel Benitez Jr., in the No. 05 Ansa Motorsports entry. Fred Poordad rounded out the podium with third in class. The other local driver in the race, 19-year-old Sloan Urry of Park City, finished fifth overall in his Platinum-class No. 20 TruSpeed Motorsports entry.

The Touring Car and B-Spec classes of the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge Championship held the last of their three weekend races this morning on the 2.18-mile West Course, and it was a thriller from start to finish. Tristan Herbert claimed the overall and Touring Car class win in his No. 33 Brimtek Volkswagen Jetta GLI, completing a last-lap pass of Todd Lamb's National Karting News Honda Civic Si and posting a 4.360sec margin of victory. Ryan Winchester took third in his No. 72 Ligon Industries Honda Civic Si.

IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, jumps off his car at the winner's podium as he celebrates winning the the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press) IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia, jumps off his car at the winner's podium as he celebrates winning the the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press)

In the B-Spec class the battle was just as intense, with Sage Marie emerging victorious in his No. 45 HPD Honda Fit over teammate Conner Ford (No. 93), and Craig Capaldi taking third in his No. 86 Capaldi Racing Ford Fiesta. Dan McKeever of Grantsville ran in the top four early in the No. 09 Miller Racing Ford Fiesta, filling in for Braden Miller, who drove the car in Saturday's two races. However, a mechanical issue with the shifter caused him to drop back temporarily. He finished seventh in class.

The IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship ran two races today. Sixteen-year-old Tristan Nunez led early in the first race, but his No. 16 Performance Tech entry lost power midrace, handing the lead and eventual win to Mikhail Goikhberg (No. 10 JDC Motorsports). Goikhberg took the checkered flag 0.598sec ahead of Charlie Shears (No. 21 Comprent Motorsports), with Jon Brownson (No. 34 Eurosport Racing) taking third. Nunez' fortunes turned around in the second race, and he cruised to a 28.554sec margin of victory over Goikhberg, with Ritchie Holt (No. 29 Performance Tech) completing the podium

Will Power celebrates after winning the IndyCar Series Sao Paulo 300 auto race on Sunday, April 29, 2012, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/LAT, Carsten Horst)  MANDATORY CREDIT (Associated Press) Will Power celebrates after winning the IndyCar Series Sao Paulo 300 auto race on Sunday, April 29, 2012, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/LAT, Carsten Horst) MANDATORY CREDIT (Associated Press)

Tooele's Ian Lacey made it a clean sweep of the weekend in the Pacific F2000 Championship, winning two races on two days on two different track configurations. After winning on Saturday on the 2.18-mile West Course, he posted a second win on Sunday on the 3.048-mile Outer Course, bringing his No. 12 DFR Racing Van Diemen RF-01 home 2.248sec clear of Bobby Kelley (No. 21 DFR Racing Van Diemen), who also repeated his Saturday result. Camren Kaminsky (No. 34 PR1 Motorsports Van Diemen) finished third, another 20 seconds behind.

In the final race of the weekend, Jim Walsh went one better in the second Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West race than he did Saturday, taking the win in his No. 96 Red Dog Racing entry by a very close 0.228sec over Steve Miller's No. 7 Racers Group entry. Doug Baron completed the podium, more than 17 seconds behind. Loren Beggs (No. 03 911 Designs) won the Gold class and Mark Brouse (No. 59 Air Power Racing) again won the Silver class.

The next major event at Miller Motorsports Park will be The BigM Weekend over Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28. The FIM Superbike World Championship will return as the headlining series, once again making their only appearance in the Western Hemisphere. As was the case last year, support races will be provided by AMA Pro Road Racing, with the National Guard American SuperBike Championship, the GoPro Daytona SportBike Championship, the Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Championship and the Vance & Hines XR1200 Championship, as well as the second annual DRIFT BigM Superbike Super Celebrity Mega Kart Showdown, on the schedule. There will also be live music throughout the weekend and a major tribute to our armed forces in recognition of Memorial Day.

IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia steers his car on the IndyCar's Sao Paulo 300 track, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012.  (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press) IndyCar driver Will Power, of Australia steers his car on the IndyCar's Sao Paulo 300 track, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, April 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) (Associated Press)

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