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Simon Pagenaud wins second weekend IndyCar race

HOUSTON — Sam Schmidt's drivers went 1-2 on Sunday for the first time as Simon Pagenaud won the Grand Prix of Houston and led rookie teammate Mikhail Aleshin to the checkered flag.

Pagenaud used the win, his second of the season, to climb back into the championship race. He came to Houston trailing points leader Will Power by 91 and cut his deficit to 59 after the two weekend races in Houston.

"It's fantastic for the race team and the entire organization," said Pagenaud, who said he felt "a little faint" from temperatures in the 90s. "The whole team has elevated to top team level."

Aleshin, the first Russian to compete in IndyCar, was a career-best second for his first podium and said a tire problem nearly prevented him from making it to the finish. Third went to rookie Jack Hawksworth, his first career podium. It capped a breakthrough weekend for the British driver, who finished a career-best sixth Saturday.

Power rallied from another poor qualifying effort to put himself in position for a third-place finish. But he failed to make it to the finish line when a part broke on his car two laps from the end. He fell to 11th. Still, he entered the weekend with a 39-point lead, and that was unchanged.

Andretti fined: IndyCar fined Marco Andretti $2,500 for ignoring an order from race control, saying he held up Takuma Sato and allowed teammate James Hinchcliffe to catch the leader in Saturday's race.

Andretti was ahead of Sato and fighting to stay on the lead lap early. IndyCar officials showed him the blue flag, the signal to move over and let Sato pass. Andretti did not heed the flag because he wanted to stay on the lead lap, and that drew a black flag, drive-thru penalty.

IndyCar also placed Andretti on probation for three races, including Sunday's. Andretti Autosport was also fined $2,500.

Andretti has denied he was intentionally holding up Sato and said he was simply fighting to remain competitive. He finished eighth. Carlos Huertas won.

NHRA: Matt Hagan won the Route 66 NHRA Nationals to end an 11-event victory drought, beating Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in the Funny Car final at Joliet, Ill. Hagan, the 2011 Funny Car season champion, had a pass of 4.098 seconds at 310.48 mph. Antron Brown won in Top Fuel, Vincent Nobile Pro Stock, and Hector Arana Jr. Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Simon Pagenaud wins second weekend IndyCar race 06/29/14 [Last modified: Sunday, June 29, 2014 9:56pm]
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