Pagenaud makes it three in a row; Dixon seventh
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Difficult race for Dixon as IndyCar Series leader gains Indy edge
Simon Pagenaud pulled away to win the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Sunday for his third straight victory and second in three years on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The French driver inherited the lead when Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves pitted with 20 laps to go, and beat the Brazilian by 4.4748 seconds on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn course. Pagenaud is the first IndyCar driver to win three in a row since Scott Dixon in 2013.
Pagenaud started from the pole and led 57 of the 82 laps. He kept the lead despite making his final pit stop one lap after Castroneves.
Pagenaud extended his points lead over Dixon to 76. Dixon, the defending series champion, finished seventh for Target Chip Ganassi.
Canadian James Hinchcliffe, of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, was third.
Team Penske has won four of the first five races of the season and all five poles.
Pagenaud's latest conquest came on the coldest day IndyCars have ever raced at the speedway.
The warm, sunny conditions that produced records speeds in qualifying were replaced by chilly, blustery weather Sunday. According to theweatherchannel.com, the local temperature when the race started was 49 degrees with a wind chill of 43, almost 10 degrees cooler than the previous record, 58 degrees for the 1992 Indianapolis 500.
The poor weather kept some fans away from the track.
What they missed - aside from more dominance by the hottest driver on the circuit and winningest team owner in series history - was a remarkable recovery from American Graham Rahal.
Less than 24 hours after being pushed from the second row to the No. 24 starting spot the No. 24 spot in the 25-car field for failing a post-qualifying inspection, Rahal wound up leading two laps and finished fourth, a little over seven seconds behind Pagenaud.
Charlie Kimball, who started second, rounded out the top five.
The race was marred by another crash on the first lap. Dixon appeared to force teammate Tony Kanaan toward the outside wall and into Sebastien Bourdais. Kanaan did not return to the race.
Bourdais' team repaired the car but he pulled off the course after completing 20 laps.
Pagenaud, the first two-time time winner of the Indy GP, will try to become the first driver to win two May races at Indy when if he qualifies for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, which will be held May 29.