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Will Power wins 3rd straight Sao Paulo 300

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POSTED April 30, 2012 12:41 a.m.

SAO PAULO (AP) — Will Power loves racing in Brazil.

Power won IndyCar’s Sao Paulo 300 for the third straight time on Sunday, finishing ahead of Ryan Hunter Reay on the 2.5-mile, 11-turn Anhembi circuit. The Australian was hardly challenged on the streets of South America’s biggest city.

Takuma Sato had a great run to finish third for his first podium after starting only 25th and Brazilian Helio Castroneves was fourth after starting 18th. Three-time defending series champion Dario Franchitti recovered from an early spin to finish fifth.

It was Power’s third straight victory after four races this season, and Penske’s fourth straight. It’s the first time the team has won four in a row to start the season, dating to the introduction of CART in 1979. Penske also won the first three races of the year in 2010.

Power was coming off victories in Alabama and Long Beach and his triumph in Brazil helped him increase his series points lead heading into the Indy 500 next month.

“Definitely good for the points, the biggest one is next race and we’ll try to make it four in a row,” Power said.

Weather was a concern as it rained hard during the morning practice session and it was expected to rain all day on Sunday, but the race started and finished on a mostly dry track. There was a light drizzle during the race, but not enough to get the track wet.

Rain had affected the Sao Paulo race every year since it joined the IndyCar calendar in 2010. It was pushed back to Monday last season, and the inaugural race was red flagged and finished at the two-hour limit after resuming.

Eight drivers were involved in a crash at a restart with eight laps to go. Although there was little contact between the cars, the track was blocked as the cars tried to make it through the first chicane.

Scott Dixon was on a different pit strategy and passed Power on lap 52 as the Australian came off the pits. But Dixon, who started third, had to make another stop at the end and finished 17th.

Franchitti stayed close to Power at the beginning of the race but spun on a restart on lap 27. He apparently was touched from behind at the first chicane and lost control of his Chip Ganassi Racing car. He needed to use pit strategy to race back to the front to finish in the top five after starting second.

Ryan Briscoe’s race ended when he hit the wall exiting a turn on lap 22, and Josef Newgarden was involved in an accident at a chicane on a restart on lap 29.

Rubens Barrichello, in his first race at home since joining IndyCar this season after a 19-year career in Formula One, ran as high as third but fell to 10th at the end. Castroneves was the best Brazilian at the packed Anhembi circuit.

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