INDIANAPOLIS -- Simon Pagenaud and his Verizon IndyCar Series team got the fuel strategy right on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car ran out of fuel just after taking the checkered flag in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Pagenaud held off Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport, who was on the same fuel strategy, and a charging Helio Castroneves of Team Penske. They finished within 1.8 seconds of each other.
The victory was the third for Pagenaud in his IndyCar Series career.
Sam Schmidt's team won for the second time at IMS. He owned the car that Dan Wheldon used to capture the 2011 Indianapolis 500.
"I was worried about Helio coming back, and I didn't know what Hunter-Reay was doing either, so I just kept working," Pagenaud said. "My lap time was saving fuel, being off the throttle.
"I don't like racing (while saving fuel), but it worked out."
Everything behind the top finishers was a mess.
The standing start proved to be the first bad moment of the new event. The pole-winning car of Sebastian Saavedra stalled on launch, leaving him a sitting duck as the rest of the field approached.
Hunter-Reay started behind Saavedra and was able to dodge him, and it appeared Saavedra might escape damage. But he was not so fortunate.
Carlos Munoz darted to the left to avoid Saavedra, but he slammed into the left rear corner of his fellow Colombian. Mikhail Aleshin, who started at the tail end of the 25-car field, apparently could not see where to go. Climbing in speed, he hit Saavedra's car even harder, sending debris scattering. Mike Conway's car also took damage.
A few spectators were struck, including Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. Ballard had a cut on his right arm, which was not serious.
Saavedra was furious that the electronics of the car failed.
"To not even get a chance (to race) because of a freaking electrical thing ----es me off," he said.
Saavedra was on the pole for the first time in his IndyCar Series career.
"I don't know," he said. "We just followed protocol of the start. I don't know if it was (a problem) or what. As soon as I released the clutch, you went from 11,000 RPMs to zero, you know.
"Very sad because we did an amazing job. Everybody (on the team) did. The team had very high expectations. Really very disappointed. We have to see what happened. This should not have happened."
Hunter-Reay had the lead on the restart at Lap 9, and the fight was on. The next time by, Hawksworth pulled into the inside lane approaching Turn 1 and took the lead from the 2012 series champion. In Turn 2, Hunter-Reay lost a challenge from Pagenaud.
Hawksworth led by 3.7 seconds when Scott Dixon spun in Turn 4 trying to pass Will Power, who had passed him in Turn 1. Dixon landed in the gravel trap.
Trouble breeds trouble in racing, and that happened in this case, too.
Graham Rahal got knocked into the wall on the restart as IndyCar had the restart zone on the front straight. He got hit from behind by Juan Pablo Montoya, who was a lap off the lead.
Rahal then blasted IndyCar on the television broadcast for not "letting the leader (accelerate) earlier." He added: "They're trying to be like NASCAR. This isn't NASCAR."
James Hinchcliffe also took a hard hit, although it was from flying debris. He pulled off the track in pain. IU Health Methodist Hospital treated Hincliffe, who complained for head and neck pain, for a concussion and released him. But the Canadian must be re-evaluated before returning to competition.
Andretti Autosport said EJ Viso will fill in for Hinchcliffe as needed. Practice for the Indianapolis 500 begins Sunday.
"I'm a little stiff and sore, and I'd love to be back in the car (on Sunday), but I suppose I should probably let the doctors make that decision," Hinchcliffe said in a statement released by the team.