The IZOD IndyCar Series opened its season Sunday with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and rising star James Hinchcliffe captured his first career victory on the 1.8-mile temporary street course. Hinchcliffe, a 26-year-old Canadian, overtook Helio Castroneves for the lead in Turn 1 during a restart on Lap 85 of the 110-lap event and held on for a 1.0982-second victory in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport. Hinchcliffe is the first Canadian to win an Indy car race since Paul Tracy in 2007 at Cleveland and the victory gave team owner Michael Andretti his 44th Indy car victory (two more than he had as a driver). Castroneves finished second and Marco Andretti overtook Simona de Silvestro in Turn 1 of the final lap to earn the final podium position. It was Andretti’s best road/street course finish since Toronto in 2011. Like the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the IZOD IndyCar Series also will be idle for the Easter weekend. The series returns to action Sunday, April 7, at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. … The NASCAR Nationwide Series will be off the next two weeks and will return Friday, April 12, with the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will perform double duty that weekend as he will compete in the O’Reilly 300 and then the NRA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday, April 13. Sam Hornish Jr. enters Texas as the Nationwide Series championship leader. … The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, idle since the season opener in Daytona, will pair with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Martinsville with a race on Saturday, April 6. … Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, has provided quite a boost to Furniture Row Racing. Busch, in his first season with the single-car organization, finished fifth in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 to give Furniture Row Racing its first back-to-back, top-five finishes since it joined the series in 2005. Busch finished fourth the previous week at Bristol. … With Earnhardt Jr. as the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader, it marks the first time in his career he has led in consecutive seasons. He enjoyed a two-race stint as the points leader last summer.
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