The start of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season in Sao Paulo, Brazil was anything but a smooth one.
Prior to the race, the Sambadromo main straight on the all-new street circuit needed an overnight grinding job to provide more grip for the drivers; the repairs forced qualifying to be staged on race morning. Then, just after the green flag, a multi-car wreck ensued at Turn 1 and culminated with Brazilian racer Mario Moraes somehow driving up and onto the top of Marco Andretti’s machine.
No one was seriously injured in the accident, but it nonetheless set the tone for perhaps the craziest race of the campaign. On Lap 30, a short but powerful storm soaked the 2.5-mile Anhembi Park circuit, knocking out all communications for an extended period and eventually bringing out the red flag to stop the race.
Following a delay of 36 minutes, leaders Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power decided to go to slick tires to try and take advantage of a drying circuit. Dario Franchitti would inherit the lead at the restart on Lap 38, but would pit five laps later. That set up a battle between Hunter-Reay and Ryan Briscoe. Briscoe took the lead from Hunter-Reay on Lap 50 and the two would trade it over the next several laps until Briscoe locked up and went into the tire barriers at Turn 7 on Lap 54 to bring out a full-course caution.
The green came back at Lap 56 — and more importantly, with six minutes remaining in the event — but Hunter-Reay was unable to hang on as Power passed him in the Turn 11 hairpin on Lap 58. That would prove to be the winning moment, as the Australian pulled away to a 1.85-second victory (Lap 61).
Power, who was making his first start since breaking two vertebrae in a practice crash the year before at Sonoma Raceway, would later call the event “probably the most mixed-up race that [he had] ever been in.”
Nonetheless, it was a highly memorable affair for the Brazilian fans, who proved their heartiness by waiting out the storms in the stands. They were rewarded with a wild race and a third-place showing from countryman Vitor Meira, who beat out another Brazilian, Raphael Matos, for the final spot on the podium.
Catch this year’s Sao Paulo Indy 300 on Sunday, May 5 at 11 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network, and NBC Sports Live Extra for your online and mobile devices.