Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Race Preview

“We’ve been counting down the days until we could get the DHL Honda back on track and now we’re finally ready to get the 2018 season started. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete is one of my favorite races of the year. It’s my home race and you really can’t beat the track layout or the setting. I’ve been on the podium four times at St. Pete, all second and third place finishes, so we really want to win this year.”

Fast Facts

Track: Streets of St. Petersburg, 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit (clockwise) through downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, including a runway of Albert Whitted Airport.

Race distance: 110 laps / 198 miles

Push-to-pass parameters: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum single duration of 15 seconds.

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate

Twitter: @GPSTPETE, @IndyCar, #FirestoneGP, #IndyCar

Event website:

INDYCAR website:

2017 race winner: Sebastien Bourdais (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda)

2017 Verizon P1 Award winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), 1 minute, 1.0640 seconds, 106.118 mph

Qualifying lap record: Will Power, 1:00.0658; 107.882 mph, March 12, 2016 (Set in Round 2 of qualifying).

ABC race broadcast: Sunday, March 11 (12:30 p.m. ET)
Allen Bestwick is the lead announcer for ABC broadcasts for the fourth consecutive year alongside analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever Jr. Pit reporters are Rick DeBruhl and Jon Beekhuis.

Video Streaming: All practice sessions and Verizon P1 Award qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be available on the INDYCAR YouTube channel ( and

Radio broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Rob Howden and Ryan Myrehn reporting from the pits. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 214, XM 209,, and on the INDYCAR Mobile app. Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying is broadcast on Sirius 214, XM 209,, and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions plus Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires practice, qualifying and races are on, and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, March 9
11:20 a.m.-12:05 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1,
3:10-3:55 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2,

Saturday, March 10
11:10-11:55 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3,
2:20 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg qualifying (Three rounds of knockout qualifications),

Sunday, March 11
8:45-9:15 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series warm-up,
12:30 p.m. – ABC on air
12:33 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines” by Helio Castroneves
12:40 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg green flag

Race Notes:

  • Josef Newgarden of Team Penske begins defense of his 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at St. Petersburg. Newgarden captured his first series title in his first season with Team Penske, winning four times. Now he aims to be Team Penske’s first repeat champion since Gil de Ferran captured back-to-back CART championships in 2000 and 2001.
  • Scott Dixon hopes to add to his record-setting resume in 2018. Dixon’s four season championships tie him with Indy car greats Mario Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais and Dario Franchitti, trailing only the seven titles collected by A.J. Foyt. Dixon is fourth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 41 but has never won at St. Petersburg. He has three runner-up finishes at the circuit.
  • The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the 15th Indy car race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Sebastien Bourdais, who makes his home in St. Petersburg, won the race last year. Paul Tracy won the inaugural race on Feb. 23, 2003, under CART sanction, while Bourdais started from the pole that year.
  • The St. Petersburg Indy car race has been run every year since 2003 with the exception of 2004. No driver has competed in every St. Petersburg race, but Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan have started 13 straight races. Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay competed in the first race in 2003.
  • Will Power (2010 and 2014) is the only entered drivers to win at St. Petersburg more than once. Helio Castroneves, who will serve as the race’s grand marshal, won three times (2006, 2007, 2012), while Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2015 and 2016. Past winners Graham Rahal (2008), James Hinchcliffe (2013) and Sebastien Bourdais (2017) are also entered.
  • Team Penske has won the pole position for eight of the last 11 St. Petersburg races, including seven of the last eight poles with Power, who set the track record in 2016 but sat out the race due to illness. Past pole winners Sebastien Bourdais (2003), Tony Kanaan (2008), Graham Rahal (2009) and Takuma Sato (2014) are also entered this weekend.
  • Two drivers have won the race from the pole – Helio Castroneves (2007) and Will Power (2010). The St. Petersburg winner has qualified fourth in four of the last five seasons.
  • Team Penske has won at St. Petersburg eight times, including four of the last six races with Helio Castroneves (2012), Will Power (2014) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2015-16). Andretti Autosport has two wins at St. Petersburg with Dan Wheldon (2005) and James Hinchcliffe (2013). Chip Ganassi Racing (Dario Franchitti in 2011) and Dale Coyne Racing (Sebastien Bourdais in 2017) have won once at St. Petersburg.
  • Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 283rd consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Kanaan will attempt to make his 344th Indy car start, which would tie Helio Castroneves for third on the all-time list.
  • Scott Dixon has made 224 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti has made 200 consecutive starts, which is the fourth-longest streak in Indy car racing.
  • Seven rookies are entered and four — Rene Binder, Jordan King, Matheus “Matt” Leist and Robert Wickens — will make their first Verizon IndyCar Series start this weekend at St. Petersburg. The other Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates are Zachary Claman De Melo, Zach Veach and Jack Harvey.
  • Since 2012, the Verizon IndyCar Series has averaged 9.5 different race winners per season, including a record-tying 11 winners in 2014. There were 10 different winners in the 17 races of 2017 with an equally tight competition projected for the season with the introduction of the 2018 car.
  • Drivers may engage their “push to pass” for a total of 150 seconds during the race, with a maximum duration of 15 seconds for any one activation. The push-to-pass is not available on the initial start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower for 2018.
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