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Penske wins wet, wild Sao Paulo Indy 300 with Power move

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Will Power wins the season-opening Sao Paulo Indy 300 (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Will Power wins the season-opening Sao Paulo Indy 300 (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

At one point, people were wondering if toads and fire were going to fall from the Brazilian skies.

That's how crazy the season-opening Sao Paulo Indy 300 from Brazil got - it seemed like the race was destined to usher in Armageddon.

But after dust, wind, rain, hail, power outages, red flags, a timed finish and a grab bag of other afflictions failed to keep the race from being called early, the IZOD IndyCar Series somehow got out of Sao Paulo with one of the most exciting street races in series history under its belt.

Will Power took home top honors after a thrilling three-way battle in the late stages of the event between Power, his Penske Racing teammate Ryan Briscoe and Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay. Power made a slick overtaking move over Hunter-Reay with only a couple of minutes left in the contest following Briscoe's crash out of the lead only a lap before.

Hunter-Reay finished a close second, while AJ Foyt Racing's Vitor Meira completed an unlikely podium by carrying the host nation's colors to third place.

The Tony Cotman-designed circuit ended up providing plenty of passing and drama after a weekend of headaches, the worst of which required a last-minute overnight diamond grinding session on the frontstretch.

At the start of the race, the concrete dust left from the grinding process resulted in zero-visibility conditions as the cars piled into the first chicane. An abrupt transition between the ground concrete and new asphalt right at the braking zone combined with the choking dust to create the perfect conditions for an accident. Rookie Takuma Sato lost control under braking and collected three other cars, and then Mario Moraes locked his rear brakes and leapfrogged onto Marco Andretti's Dallara. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

Following the restart, the action was close and furious. Rookie Simona de Silvestro ran up front all day, even leading after taking over the top spot with excellent pit strategy, before dropping out late in the going with mechanical trouble. Also impressive was Raphael Matos, who eventually finished fourth in his Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports entry, as was Dan Wheldon who almost uncharacteristically notched a street course top-five finish for Panther Racing.

Home fan favorite Tony Kanaan rebounded to a top-ten finish after getting involved in an incident involving Wheldon and early front-runner Alex Tagliani.

The race was interrupted by a fast-moving rain- and hailstorm that passed through Sao Paulo mid-race. The storm knocked out power all over the city, including in the media center and in IndyCar's race control. The event ended as a timed race as a result.

The many and varied distractions failed to detract from the exciting action all over the track or, indeed, the fact that the full grandstands stayed that way through the entire event in defiance of the weather.