On March 24, the IZOD IndyCar Series awakens from its offseason slumber with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the event’s ninth year of competition. It is hard to believe that almost a decade has passed since the circuit hosted the IndyCar Series’ first right turn. The course, a classic street circuit configuration, encompasses fourteen turns with the main straight normally an airport runway.
Now a staple on the IndyCar schedule, the event’s ninth edition has all the makings of the best race in the event’s history. The IZOD IndyCar Series prepares to grid the most competitive field in history with everyone powered by the horsepower muscle of Chevrolet or Honda.
Team Penske’s record at the track is unmatched as the team looks to capture its sixth win at St. Pete and Will Power fired the first salvo winning the Verizon Pole Position recording a record breaking 105.87 mph. Teammate Helio Castroneves will be striving for his fourth St. Petersburg crown starting from the fifth position.
The positive surprise of the weekend is lone rookie driver Tristan Vautier who outqualified his veteran teammate by thirteen positions making the Firestone Fast Six. Vautier, a graduate of Indy Lights, showed great speed in testing but it was unsure if it would translate to a competition weekend. His speed is impressive, however, the verdict is out on whether he will be able to translate his speed into finishes that match.
IndyCar’s heavy hitters are spread throughout the field which should mean for some serious excitement with some, historically, fast drivers needing to weave their way through the field using daring passing and pit strategy that could result in chaos on starts and restarts. These factors are a breeding ground for exciting racing and unpredictable outcomes.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
- Chevrolet locked down seven of the top ten starting grid positions, but will Honda find speed to challenge on race day?
- Chip Ganassi Racing is having a tough time getting their cars to turn through the center of the corners inhibiting their speed
- Sebastien Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud, and Scott Dixon are starting outside the top-15 so there will be a long day ahead for these drivers
- Firestone, at the drivers’ request, brought vastly different grip levels on the red tires and black tires so tire strategy will be important to the victor’s race
- Lap 1, Turn 1…enough said
Enjoy the Race!