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Oriol Servia to sub for ill Will Power at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IndyCar driver Will Power, who struggled early and hit a wall during a practice session, talks while in the pits  on opening day of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Friday (3/11/16). DIRK SHADD   |   Times

IndyCar driver Will Power, who struggled early and hit a wall during a practice session, talks while in the pits on opening day of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Friday (3/11/16). DIRK SHADD | Times

ST. PETERSBURG — Pole-sitter Will Power will not participate in Sunday's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg due to illness.

Power broke the track record twice during qualifying Saturday but left soon afterward due to a stomach issue.

Oriol Servia replaced Power during warmups for the season-opening IndyCar race and will drive the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet.

"I've been waiting 15 years to get in one of these cars," Servia said of powerhouse Team Penske.

But the circumstances weren't what Servia envisioned. Servia and Power are good friends and were teammates in 2008. Servia will have to start from the back of the field.

Servia was already in town, roaming the paddock to try to secure a ride for this year's 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. But when Penske approached him about filling in for Power, the 41-year-old Servia wasn't prepared.

His girlfriend had to catch a direct flight from their home in Los Angeles. She landed just after midnight with Servia's helmet, still adorned with an image of Salvador Dali, a fellow Spaniard. Servia borrowed a slightly-too-large Penske fire suit from teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.

"It's never easy," Servia said, "but the good thing is, it's the best car on the field."

Servia replaced Justin Wilson for last year's season finale at Sonoma after Wilson was killed the week before at Pocono. Servia is a veteran of 197 American open-wheel races. His lone victory came at Montreal in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.

Power has starred at this 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course, winning the pole six times in the past seven seasons.

The green flag is scheduled for 12:52 p.m.

Oriol Servia to sub for ill Will Power at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 03/13/16 [Last modified: Sunday, March 13, 2016 11:34am]
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