The restart was dicey with Jack Hawksworth taking it three-wide against Dixon and Montoya, but they all made it through the corner cleanly and the drivers settled into a steady rhythm.
The exception to “finding a steady rhythm” was Alexander Rossi and Will Power. The two immediately engaged in an epic duel, with Power muscling his way past Rossi on the restart. Rossi refused to let the position go and put pressure on the veteran Penske driver. Rossi was much faster on the softer Bridgestone red tires and made sure Will knew it. A few laps after he was passed, Rossi was able to pressure Power into a mistake. Just past the apex of Turn 7, Will lost the rear of his Dallara and spun into the grass. He was able to get going but the field, still tightly packed from the restart, whizzed by him. He restarted in 23rd, any chance of winning now gone.
The first round of pit stops came and went with little drama. Pagenaud held the lead comfortably, opening up a gap on the field. Hinchcliffe and Charlie Kimball battled for 2nd and 3rd.
Foyt Racing has been an utter mess since the aero kits debuted a year ago. Jack Hawksworth finally got a grip on the car for Indy and here leads Dixon for 5th.
Hawksworth’s teammate Takuma Sato was not so lucky. By the halfway point, Pagenaud was threatening to put Sato a lap down.
One of the low-key stories of the day was the calm, collected performance put in by Matt Brabham in his IndyCar debut. Does that name sound familiar? He is the son of four-time IMSA champion (and former CART driver) Geoff Brabham, as well as the grandson of 3-time F1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham. Matt was the 2012 USF2000 champion and the 2013 Pro Mazda Champ. His clean run netted him a 16th place finish, not a bad finish for his first ever race in these cars. He will be competing in the Indy 500 later this month as well.
Bourdais was able to get back on the track, albeit many laps down. He did not last long, eventually dropping out again on Lap 39, right in the middle of the second round of pitstops. J.R. Hildebrand also stopped on track and the removal of both cars necessitated a full course yellow, bunching up the field. Not only did Pagenaud lose his gap, but he dropped to 5th after his pit stop, falling behind those cars that pitted before the yellow.