HOUSTON – As expected, the weather played a major factor when IndyCar made its second trip to Texas for a race in 2014.
Only it wasn’t just the heat that would play a factor but some rain as well, which had a major effect on the first race of the weekend while the warm temps took center stage in the second.
But for the latter, Simon Pagenaud was able to overcome the 90-plus degree temperatures to come home with this second victory of the season on Sunday afternoon at NRG Park.
Pagenaud grabbed the lead from Helio Castroneves on Lap 49 and never let it go, slowly distancing himself from the field in the second half of the race for his first win since the Grand Prix of Indianapolis back in May.
His teammate Mikhail Aleshin finished second while fellow rookie Jack Hawksworth finished third.
Castroneves’ car appeared the one to beat for the early part of the race as the pole sitter took his No. 3 Pennzoil machine quickly around the street course. But after Pagenaud passed him on Lap 49, Castroneves crashed when he tried to get back in the line of traffic and ended up colliding with Sebastien Bourdais.
The race on Saturday was plagued by early showers that forced the race to be timed and made the teams bring out the rain tires.
Combined with the heat, the slick conditions caused a number of experienced drivers to spin or crash including series leader Will Power and former series champion Scott Dixon.
Rookie Carlos Huertas was able to make his way through the field, however, and got out in front and stayed there when the time ran out. It was his first win as member of the Verizon IndyCar Series. Fellow Columbian driver Juan Pablo Montoya finished second while Carlos Munoz rounded out the podium in third.