March 30 in Motorsports History: Will Power begins title run at St. Pete

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The 2014 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg marked the first race for the IndyCar Series with Verizon as a title sponsor. Fittingly, it was the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet who won.

Will Power triumphed on the 14-turn street circuit for the second time of his career on this date in 2014. The victory was first of three for the Aussie in a season which he finally won his first championship after three consecutive runner-up points finishes in 2010-12.

Takuma Sato started from the pole position and led 28 of the first 30 laps, but Power, who started fourth, took the lead on Lap 31.

The Team Penske driver made a small error in the race’s first restart on Lap 82. Expecting the green flag to wave later than it did, Power was slow to accelerate. In fact, he was so slow that several cars behind him bunched together and made contact, causing another yellow.

Some of Power’s competitors criticized his move, believing he was attempting to brake-check his teammate and third-place finisher Helio Castroneves on the restart, which Power denied.

“They threw the green early. I thought we were meant to go in that (restart) zone,” Power told ESPN. “I was surprised. I didn’t even know what happened behind me.

“I didn’t touch my brake at all. You can look at my data. I didn’t touch it all.”

It was the first of seven podium finishes in 2014 for Power.

“(I’m) pretty stoked to get the first win for Verizon as a series sponsor with the Verizon car, so it’s a great day,” Power said.

Also on this date:

1969: George Follmer won the Jimmy Bryan 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, his lone victory in the USAC Champ Car Series. Follmer later went on to become a champion in both Can-Am and Trans-Am.

1980: Nelson Piquet led every lap from the pole to win the Grand Prix of the United States at Long Beach, his first victory in F1. However, Piquet’s victory was overshadowed by a horrific crash involving Clay Regazzoni, whose brakes failed before an impact with Ricardo Zunino’s car (which had been left abandoned in an access road). Regazzoni was paralyzed from the waist down in the accident.

2000: Colton Herta was born in Valencia, California. During Herta’s 2019 rookie season, he became IndyCar’s youngest race winner (at Circuit of The Americas) and pole winner (Road America). He also is the first driver born in the 2000s to start an IndyCar race.

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Simon Pagenaud’s engineer relives 2019 Indy 500 victory on Twitter

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The Team Penske engineer for last year’s Indianapolis 500 winner is reliving Simon Pagenaud’s day by tweeting about what he was doing each moment a year later.

Starting with an observation that he awoke in his Indianapolis hotel room at 4:30 a.m., Ben Bretzman (@benbretzman) sent nearly two dozen tweets by 11 a.m. ET about how the morning before the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 unfolded.

Bretzman was through the infield tunnel and in Gasoline Alley by 6 a.m. By 7:30 a.m., he was wondering if his driver was awake yet, but he had heard for the first time from Pagenaud 45 minutes later.

‘BACK HOME AGAIN’Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, NBC

FIERCE FRIENDSHIPPagenaud, Rossi recall epic battle of 2019 Indy 500

Among other highlights: The team’s last strategy meeting was at 8:30 a.m.; final check of the weather was at 9:30 a.m. and Bretzman gave the No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet a once-over at 10:35 a.m. before it was pushed to the grid.

Follow @BenBretzman to watch the day unfold from the pit box and tune into “Back Home Again at 2 p.m. ET on NBC as Pageanud and Alexander Rossi, who are good friends off the track, recap their epic duel with host Mike Tirico.

Simon Pagenaud and engineer Ben Bretzman debrief at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IndyCar photo by Joe Skibinski).