James Hinchcliffe led the final 300 yards of the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle, which is all that was necessary.
Hinchcliffe overtook Takuma Sato in the final turn of the final lap to win by .3463 of a second, preventing A.J. Foyt Racing from earning consecutive victories for the first time since 1998 (Kenny Brack at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Pike Peak International Raceway).
Hinchcliffe, who won the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla., and did not finish the past two races because of contact in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car, earned his second career victory and the third for Andretti Autosport this season. He is the first Canadian to win in Brazil since Greg Moore at Rio on May 10, 1998, and the third winner in four races.
Click it: Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle box score
Marco Andretti finished on the podium in the No. 25 RC Cola car for the second time (and his fourth consecutive top-seven finish) and Oriol Servia placed fourth after starting 13th in the No. 22 Panther/DRR car. It was his best outing since finishing fourth at Milwaukee last June.
Josef Newgarden, who was running .5285 of a second behind Sato on Lap 70 of 75, finished a career-high fifth after making up 20 spots relative to his starting position.
“There’s no cooler way to win a race -- in the last corner of the last lap," said Hinchcliffe, who led the four Andretti Autosport cars finishing in the top 11. "Takuma was making that race car really wide and he was defending the inside pretty well, almost too well a couple times. He just outbroke himself just a little bit and I was able to do a high-low (pass) and got the win.”
Sato acquired the lead when leader JR Hildebrand pitted under caution on Lap 57. On the Lap 60 restart, Newgarden's No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car and Simon Pagenaud in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car both overtook Hinchcliffe.
Hinchcliffe regained a position from Pagenaud on Lap 67 to be running third (2.7837 seconds behind Sato). On Lap 72, Hinchcliffe passed Newgarden in Turn 11 and was .2180 of a second behind Sato on Lap 73. Andretti and Servia slipped past Newgarden on the final lap just after Hinchcliffe's winning move.
"That’s IndyCar racing. That’s what it’s about," team owner Michael Andretti said. "It seems that so many of these races go down the last turn of the last lap. That’s what makes this such a great sport. I’m glad we came out on the good end of the stick for sure. It’s awesome to have two cars on the podium."
Sato, who logged the final 38 laps (96.2 miles) on a set of Firestone alternate tires, takes a 12-point lead over Andretti in the championship standings heading into the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 26. Helio Castroneves, who led in points through three races, is third after placing 13th on the 2.536-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit. Hinchcliffe moved to fourth (22 points back).
Sato applauded Hinchcliffe -- and the full house of spectators -- a couple of seconds after the checkered flag.
"The guys did a good job," said Sato, who started 12th in the No. 14 ABC Supply car and led a field-high 22 laps. "It was a really solid day for us. It was a great, great race, and we’re carrying good momentum into Indianapolis."
Pole sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay finished 11th. Will Power, who had won the previous three races in Brazil, had gained 12 spots from his 22nd starting position. But a fire on board the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car on Lap 19 ended his day.
"Obviously burned something with the gear shift because it stopped shifting, so I was looking for the automatic shift or the manual shift, but yeah it was a fire," said Power, who has been the championship runner-up the past three years. "We don’t know what happened, I had no real warning, unfortunately. I had such a good car man, I was passing a car a lap."