Last year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach saw Will Power overcome a 10-spot grid penalty and hold off a hard-charging Simon Pagenaud in the closing laps to win at the famous street circuit for the second time.
Power and all the other Chevrolet-powered drivers were forced to take those penalties because of the Bowtie’s decision to swap all of its engines. In a test session at Sonoma Raceway just days before the event weekend, issues were discovered on James Hinchcliffe’s Chevy powerplant that the manufacturer felt could affect every driver within its ranks.
At the start of the race, Power was 12th but still made his way through the field with the help of a two-stop strategy. He took the lead on Lap 71 after Pagenaud made his third stop of the afternoon.
But the Frenchman was far from done. Coming out of the pits in fourth position, he quickly hacked into Power’s sizable advantage with laps that were more than a second quicker than the leaders. He hunted down Rubens Barrichello for third, then dusted Takuma Sato for second place with six laps left.
Unfortunately for Pagenaud, he simply ran out of time as Power held on to win by .87 of a second.
“We saved enough fuel to be able to push for the last two laps, so I felt we were pretty safe,” said Power. “The only thing was the couple of back markers there on the last [lap]. That was the only thing that really concerned me. But apart from that, it was just running as hard as I possibly could, getting a good lap time with high fuel mileage, and that was the key to the race.”
Despite the engine penalties, Chevy-powered drivers earned four of the top five spots at the finish: Power in first, Hinchcliffe in third, Tony Kanaan in fourth, and J.R. Hildebrand in fifth.
You can catch the 2013 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach next Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.