Dan Wheldon won the Toyota Indy 300 as the new Indy Racing League season began at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Wheldon celebrates his win with a spin or two
The British driver led for 158 of 200 laps and clinched victory despite an interruption caused by an eight-car crash late in the race.
Wheldon said: "It's one race into the championship, one race. "If it's meant to be it's meant to be."
Fellow Englishman Darren Manning was sixth but Dario Franchitti of Scotland had a blown engine after only 12 laps.
Only 10 of the 22 starters were running at the end of the race.
Wheldon, part of the Andretti Green Racing team, pulled away from the pack midway through the contest and seemed to be heading for an easy win.
The race-halting crash came on lap 159 when Kosuke Matsuura, trying to pass pole-winner Tomas Scheckter on the outside, slid sideways and hit him.
The shunt also took out Scott Sharp, Bryan Herta, Scott Dixon, Roger Yasukawa, Ed Carpenter and 22-year-old rookie Danica Patrick, making her first IRL start.
After a long clean-up, Wheldon steadily pulled away from a group that included two-time IRL champion and defending race winner Sam Hornish Jr and reigning series champion Tony Kanaan.
The race ended with Wheldon's Honda-powered Dallara 3.7 seconds ahead of a three-way battle for second just won by Hornish.