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article imageINDYCAR: Pagenaud conserves fuel all the way to winner's circle

By John Duarte     May 11, 2014 in Sports
Indianapolis - Simon Pagenaud made the most of the fuel in his car and survived a challenge from Ryan Hunter-Reay to win the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10, 2014.
Pagenaud was well aware he was gambling on having enough gas for the final 29 laps of the infield course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was the first time IndyCars ran on the road circuit at the fabled race track. Pagenaud
“It was nerve-wracking,” he said. “I didn't know what we were asking for, but we made fuel.”
There was so little fuel left in Pagenaud's tank in fact that he couldn't even celebrate with the now usual burnout-donuts that drivers do after a victory. It didn't seem to bother Pagenaud. What was concerning the eventual winner of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis was the two drivers trying to chase him down, Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves.
“My lap time was saving fuel, being off the throttle,” he said. “I don't like racing off throttle. But it worked out.”
Pagenaud became the fourth different winner in four races this season.
Hunter-Reay, who is off to a great start to the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series with a win and two second-place finishes, said he too was saving gas, a strategy that he hopes will carry over to the Indianapolis 500.
“I would rather not have saved fuel at the end,” said the second-place finisher. “I thought maybe we had a shot, but hopefully we're saving that last step of the podium for the big race at the end of the month.”
The race was barely underway when the first crash happened on the track. Pole-sitter Sebastian Saavedra's car stalled on the starting line and was hit from behind by several cars and drivers launched to start the race. Drivers were not injured in the wreck, but in an odd incident, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard was struck by flying debris and suffered an injury to his arm. Ballard, who was in the flag stand to wave the ceremonial green flag, was treated at the infield medical center and released.
In another odd incident, James Hinchcliffe was taken from track side by stretcher after he was hit in the head by part of a car in front of him struck him in the head. Hinchcliffe pulled off course immediately and was holding his head with both hands as he exited the car.
“I'm a little stiff and sore,” Hinchcliffe said. “I'd love to be back in the car tomorrow, but I suppose I should probably let the doctors make that decision.”
Hinchcliffe was diagnosed with a concussion and will have to medically cleared before he can take part in qualifying and practice for the Indy 500. In the past, IndyCar has ruled that drivers suffering concussions must not participate in racing activity for a minimum of seven days.
Andretti Autosport announced that E.J. Viso will replace Hinchcliffe if the latter is not cleared to race. Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 begins May 17.
Will Power keeps his spot at the top of the drivers' standings, but only by one point over Hunter-Reay. Pagenaud's win moves him within six points of the leader.
The Greatest Spectacle in Racing is the next race on the Verizon IndyCar Series. The 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 goes on May 25, 2014, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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