INDYCAR: Huertas wins part one of the Houston GP

Carlos Huertas, driver of the #18 Dale Coyne Racing Dallara Honda, celebrates after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Shell and Pennzoil GP of Houston.
Carlos Huertas, driver of the #18 Dale Coyne Racing Dallara Honda, celebrates after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Shell and Pennzoil GP of Houston.

It was a great day for sports in Columbia. First their own, Carlos Huertas, a 23  Verizon IndyCar Series rookie won Race 1 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, his first ever win. Juan Pablo Montoya finished second and rookie Carlos Munoz placed third for the podium sweep, and earlier in the day Colombia won its FIFA World Cup knockout match.

The second part of the Grand Prix of Houston will be run today at 3 pm ET on NBC Sports Network.

But part one went to Huertas who prior to Saturday his best finish was eighth in the opening round of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit a month ago. He is the seventh different winner in nine races. Marco Andretti in 2006 at Sonoma Raceway was the last driver to win in his first season.

He led the final seven laps (his first of the season) after his teammate Justin Wilson had to pit for fuel, started 19th in the race that was scheduled for 90 laps but was ruled a timed race (1 hour, 50 minutes) because of rain that delayed the standing start. A one-lap shootout on a restart was set up following a caution on Lap 78, but the car of Graham Rahal clipped the rear of Tony Kanaan’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing car heading to the restart zone and a “no start” call came from Race Control.

Sebastien Bourdais, who won on the temporary street circuit in 2006 and ’07, placed a season-best fourth and James Hinchcliffe, who led 32 laps early, earned his second top-five finish of the season. Rookie Jack Hawksworth, whose No. 98 car made contact in practice June 27 and started 21st, earned a season-best sixth place.

Championship leader Will Power, who started 18th in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, slid into the Turn 9 tires on Lap 58 to bring out the caution flag. He finished 14th and, combined with teammate Helio Castroneves’ ninth place, takes a 33-point lead in the team championship into Race 2 on June 29.

Montoya, who is competing in his first Indy car season since 2000, posted his best finish of the season and follows a third place finish at Texas Motor Speedway on June 7. Munoz, who started 23rd, earned his third career podium and fourth top-five finish (in 12 races).

Here from INDYCAR are the Houston results:

1. (19) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running

2. (11) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running

3. (23) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running

4. (9) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running

5. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running

6. (21) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running

7. (8) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running

8. (16) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running

9. (2) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running

10. (7) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running

11. (14) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running

12. (15) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running

13. (22) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running

14. (18) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 79, Running

15. (20) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 79, Running

16. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 74, Running

17. (17) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 55, Mechanical

18. (13) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 54, Contact

19. (3) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 46, Contact

20. (12) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 41, Mechanical

21. (4) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Honda, 36, Contact

22. (6) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 32, Contact

23. (10) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 31, Contact

Race Statistics

Winners average speed:   70.389

Time of Race: 01:51:25.5649

Margin of victory: 0.0975

Cautions: 6 for 24 laps

Lead changes: 6 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:

Pagenaud 1 – 4

Sato 5 – 26

Hinchcliffe 27

Wilson 28

Hinchcliffe 29 – 59

Wilson 60 – 73

Huertas 74 – 80

Point Standings: Power 386, Castroneves 353, Hunter-Reay 336, Pagenaud 295, Montoya 263, Munoz 262, Andretti 259, Dixon 225, Hinchcliffe 214, Bourdais 212.