We are halfway through the 90-lap first race of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader (NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra). The first round of pit stops for most cars are complete.
Will Power got ahead of polesitter Takuma Sato almost from the off – after the second attempt at a standing start was completed – and led Scott Dixon in a straight fight until their first round of pit stops on lap 36 and 37.
The first start was aborted for Charlie Kimball being stalled on the grid. On a second attempt, James Hinchcliffe had a mechanical issue and while the rest of the field was able to avoid the stalled No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter was not and clipped Hnchcliffe’s stranded machine. That brought out the first full course yellow of the race.
Sato needed to pit for a flat right tire but took on all four tires and fuel at the Lap 7 pit stop.
Several cars went off strategy after the restart – Helio Castroneves and two of the drivers with grid penalties, Dario Franchitti and Graham Rahal – in an attempt to gain positions.
Castroneves, meanwhile, saw his day go awry with shifting issues that called for a pit stop and repairs. The Brazilian had completed every lap this year prior to the pit stop. It drastically alters the championship complexion.
The race ran green from Lap 9 to Lap 39, and a spin by Franchitti in Turn 3 triggered the second full course yellow of the race.
Just prior to that as the field completed its first round of stops, Dixon jumped Power on the pit stop sequence.
Simon Pagenaud and Simona de Silvestro have been in the mix, as has Barracuda Racing’s Luca Filippi in his last scheduled race weekend of 2013.