Australian Will Power won the IndyCar Sao Paulo 300 on Sunday, outlasting American Ryan Hunter-Reay to capture the season opener by 1.4 seconds over a Brazilian street course race shortened to 61 laps.
Drivers were trying to stretch fuel to the finish when Aussie Ryan Briscoe crashed out late in the race, bringing out a full-course caution that set the stage for a full-speed battle to the checkered flag.
"We battled it out," Power said. "It was a great day. It was a day when everything was thrown at you but we got it done."
Power had struggled with gearbox troubles before qualifying earlier Sunday, the first-ever race day time trials in IndyCar history. The move was forced by driver concerns over grip on parts of the course.
Brazilians Vitor Meira and Raphael Matos were third and fourth followed in order by England's Dan Wheldon, New Zealand's Scott Dixon and pole sitter Dario Franchitti, the defending series champion from Scotland.
Eight of the 24 starters were out by the end of the race, which was halted by rain at one stage and plauged by puddling at times.
"I had so much fun with the adverse conditions and so much passing," said Hunter-Reay. "It's really disappointing finish second but I'm having a blast."
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