Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg By The Numbers:
- 0 —> rolling starts made by rookie Mikhail Aleshin prior to Sunday
- 3 —> cars issued drive through penalties for various infractions
- 4 —> IndyCar poles won by Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg pole winner Takuma Sato
- 5 —> drivers turned their quickest circuit of the race on lap 95
- 6 —> times that St. Petersburg has hosted the first race of an IndyCar season
- 6 —> podiums by Helio Castroneves at St. Petersburg
- 7 —> lead changes
- 9 —> cars passed by Graham Rahal on the first lap
- 10 —> caution laps
- 13 —> spots gained by Josef Newgarden, the most of any driver
- 13 —> seasons between IndyCar starts for Juan Montoya
- 18 —> cars on the lead lap
- 62.3404 —> seconds it took Will Power to complete lap 95, the quickest of the circuit of the race
- 74 —> laps led by race winner Power
- 93.572 —> average speed of the race in miles per hour
- 97.6 —> percent of possible laps completed by the field of 22 drivers
Derrick Walker absolved Will Power and Johnny Rutherford of any wrong doing in a RACER.com report regarding the lap 82 restart gone wrong.
Walker said, “”We all thought that first restart looked very slow but, after looking at the replays and car data following the race, there was no brake checking by Will or slowing down,” said Walker, IndyCar’s president of competition and operations. “He brought the field down at the pace car speed and accelerated exactly where he was supposed to and it was a good restart. And Johnny (Rutherford, pace car driver) did exactly as we asked him and pulled off late.”
A 230mph Polar Bear
Ed Carpenter Racing announced over the weekend that they would partner with Preferred Freezer Services on the No. 21 Indianapolis 500 entry that will be piloted by 2011 Indy 500 rookie of the year J.R. Hildebrand.
Founded in 1989, Preferred Freezer Services is a Chatham, New Jersey based company that provides refrigerated warehousing in 35 locations across the USA and Asia.
“We are very pleased to announce our partnership with Preferred Freezer Services in conjunction with J.R.’s No. 21 ECR entry for this year’s 500-Mile Race,” said Carpenter, the 2013 Indy 500 pole winner. “This unique and innovative company is a leader in its field and gives Ed Carpenter Racing a new partner for the world’s biggest race. We believe the bright blue and white paint scheme and the legendary Polar Bear logo will be a fan favorite at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this May, but will more importantly represent an innovative and successful partnership that will deliver tremendous value to our partners at Preferred Freezer Services.”
Bid on a lid
Bid early and bid often on the fan designed helmet that Graham Rahal wore during the 2013 MAVTV 500 IndyCar Series finale.
Proceeds will benefit both of the Graham Rahal Foundation’s charities, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer and SeriousFun Children’s Network.
Man they work fast (Part 3)
New IndyCar title sponsor Verizon has already produced two outstanding commercials to showcase the series:
The Freshmen Report Card
Results: a solid C+
The results portion of this early season test for the four drivers fighting it out for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year crown could easily been at least one letter grade higher if not for a lap 82 restart kerfuffle ended what could have been good days for Jack Hawksworth and Carlos Munoz.
Mikhail Aleshin piloted his No. 7 SMP Racing Honda to a sneaky 12th place finish despite making five pit stops.. He scored the 14th quickest lap of the race and was the second quickest driver through the trick Turn 2 and 3 complex.
The car was very good, and all of our pit stops were smooth,” Aleshin said. “We were a bit unlucky with how the yellow flags fell, but that’s just racing. Overall, I’m very happy because we were close to a top-10, and we know we have a good race car. I’m also happy to be the highest-finishing rookie!”
Starting 7th and running the early part of the race inside the top 10 was just the boost of confidence that Carlos Munoz needed. Being involved in the the lap 82 restart mess was just what Munoz didn’t need. It effectively ruined a solid run when he was forced to pit for tires and a new front wing.
Munoz said, “Our race was good until I crashed on the front straight; I’m don’t really know what happened, a guy in front of me wrecked and then I couldn’t really do anything about it. I think I was doing quite good before staying in the top 10 looking forward to a top-10 finish. It’s racing. I learned a lot today, but it’s just a shame I couldn’t do much after the crash. Thanks to my Cinsay crew for working hard all weekend.”
Driving an IndyCar for only the second time AND making your first IndyCar start on a tough street course can often be a recipe for disaster. 22 year old Carlos Huertas impressed by quickly getting up to pace and keeping his DW12 off the walls of the St. Pete street circuit. Take away a late drive through penalty and Heurtas could have finished a couple of spot higher than he did.
“Finishing the race was the main goal and I did that,” said Huertas.
Bryan Herta Autosport rookie pilot Jack Hawksworth had an impressive race going until being taken out in the lap 82 restart melee. “Hawk” had no problem handling pit stops and was able to put together the seventh quickest lap of the day.
“It wasn’t the end to the race that we wanted, unfortunately,” said Hawksworth. “It was really out of our control and took us out of the race. I just want to say that the guys did a great job. We had some really good pace on the reds and I think that’s promising, going forward.
Who Was Quick:
Race winner Will Power was quick everywhere, but where the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet really worked well was getting the power down off of Turn 9 onto the back stretch through Turn 14. That allowed him to carry greater speed onto the front straight.
Helio Castroneves, and Sebastien Bourdais were the other drivers who were consistently in the top 5 in each segment.
Rookie drivers Mikhail Aleshin and Jack Hawksworth posted some very impressive segment times. Aleshin set the second quickest time between Turn 2 and Turn 4, while Hawksworth set the second quickest time from Turn 4 through Turn 8.
Quickest overall lap times were as follows:
|1||Will Power||No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet||01:02.3404||103.945||94|
|2||Sebastien Bourdais||No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet||01:02.4409||103.778||95|
|3||Mike Conway||No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet||01:02.5515||103.595||52|
|4||Helio Castroneves||No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet||01:02.5545||103.590||94|
|5||Ryan Hunter-Reay||No. 28 DHL Honda||01:02.6515||103.429||94|
|6||Takuma Sato||No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda||01:02.8442||103.112||4|
|7||Jack Hawksworth||No. 98 Charter / Castrol Edge Honda||01:02.8522||103.099||57|
|8||Justin Wilson||No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda||01:02.8586||103.089||20|
|9||Josef Newgarden||No.67 Florida Lottery/ SFH Racing Honda||01:02.8779||103.057||101|
|10||Scott Dixon||No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||01:02.9834||102.884||94|
|11||Juan Montoya||No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet||01:03.0147||102.833||17|
|12||Simon Pagenaud||No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing Honda||01:03.0561||102.766||17|
|13||Ryan Briscoe||No. 8 NTTData Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||01:03.0583||102.762||97|
|14||Mikhail Aleshin||No. 7 SMP Racing Honda||01:03.0878||102.714||93|
|15||Tony Kanaan||No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||01:03.1335||102.640||94|
|16||Graham Rahal||No. 15 National Guard Honda||01:03.1837||102.558||93|
|17||Charlie Kimball||No. 83 Novo Nordisk Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||01:03.2043||102.525||19|
|18||Carlos Huertas||No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda||01:03.3219||102.334||92|
|19||Carlos Munoz||No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM Honda||01:03.3614||102.270||95|
|20||Sebastian Saavedra||No. 17 AFS KVAFS Racing Chevrolet||01:03.5189||102.017||63|
|21||James Hinchcliffe||No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda||01:03.5934||101.897||90|
|22||Marco Andretti||No. 25 Snapple Honda||01:03.6301||101.839||41|
Driver Quotables – five post race quotes
Will Power No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
“Man, I’m mentally tired. That was physical and hard, but pretty stoked to get the first win for Verizon as the series sponsor with the Verizon car. It’s a great day, a great stop there when we all pitted at the same time, the boys got me out there. Really happy with that and we executed well. I worked so hard in the offseason. We came into the season wanting to win a championship for Roger, and the way it went down last year was really disappointing for Helio (Castroneves) not to win.
Juan Montoya No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
On being back in open wheel:
“Fun! It’s going to be a lot of work but I am very excited.”
Mike Conway No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
As the day went on, we steadily moved up and we got to third. I think we had a different strategy from other people. We made some big gains on the red Firestone tires drove by many people today. So that was very positive. I wasn’t really hoping for a safety car there around lap 80. I was hoping to hold the gap when we went to the black tires. I didn’t hear a radio communication to come into the pits then. I thought the safety car waved me by but they were waving (James) Hinchcliffe by instead. I don’t know if there was a communication problem there too. I didn’t know if they waving at me or both of us. Then they said it was only for Hinch.
Marco Andretti No. 25 Snapple Honda:
“Yeah it’s hard to see because I was pretty far back, but Will just stopped. Once you go, you gotta go. It was a bit of an accordion effect, and I just got caught up. That’s what happens when you’re in the back, so I’ve really got no one to blame but myself.”
Josef Newgarden No.67 Florida Lottery/ SFH Racing Honda
“Today was a good day. A great points day. We started really buried in the field. Starting 22nd is not ideal and we had a really tough go on Saturday. That just put us on the back foot for the race. What we need to do is qualify better and have a better weekend as a whole. We kept fighting, there are a lot of fighters on this team who never give up. We scored a top-10 finish which is wonderful. It’s good points, you have to be scoring top-10 finishes every weekend.
Poor tire strategy on my part. Weird restart took us out but my fault we were back there. Long beach time.
— Marco Andretti (@MarcoAndretti) March 30, 2014
— Ryan Briscoe (@Ryan_Briscoe) March 31, 2014
— Helio Castroneves (@h3lio) March 30, 2014
— Michael conway (@Mikeconway26) March 30, 2014
— Scott Dixon (@scottdixon9) March 31, 2014
Big effort from the @BHA team, very strong pace once we got on to the reds. Shame about the ending but we'll get back after it at Long Beach
— Jack Hawksworth (@jackhawk98) March 31, 2014
— Tony Kanaan (@TonyKanaan) March 30, 2014
Had a pretty good race. had some problems and learned a lot. Speed was good but need to work in the balance a little more.
— Juan Pablo Montoya (@jpmontoya) March 31, 2014
Un accidente imposible de evitar término con mis posibilidades de luchar por el top10 Me quedo con lo positivo de este fin de semana…
— Carlos Munoz (@CarlosMunoz034) March 31, 2014
For those of us who aren’t fluent in Spanish:
A term impossible to avoid accident with my chances of fighting for the top 10. I’ll take the positives from this weekend …
Tough day today. Just didn't have the grip but proud of my @NationalGuard team. How bout that start?! 21st to 10th I'm told.
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) March 30, 2014
Technically not IndyCar, but KuBu winning a NASCAR race (and thereby guaranteeing a place in the Chase) makes doing the Indianapolis 500/Coca-Cola 600 double much less stressful.
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) March 31, 2014
Roll the tape
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Race Highlights:
RACER.com IndyCar Podium Interviews:
Where they stand
Driver Championship Standings
Sunoco Rookie of The Year Standings
Manufacturer Championship Standings
Wrapping it up:
Some newsy and some opiniony…
- Associated Press - POWER BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT FOLLOWING ST. PETE WIN
- autosport - St Petersburg IndyCar: Will Power starts season with win for Penske
- AUTOWEEK - Will Power and Chevrolet win controversial IndyCar opener
- IndyCar Advocate - Notes: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
- IndyCar Minnesota – Winner and Losers
- More Front Wing – FIRST IMPRESSIONS – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
- Motorsports Talk – Verizon IndyCar Note & Quotes: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
- New Track Record - Ten worthless opinions: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg edition
- National Speed Sport News – Will Hits Max Power In Florida
- Open Wheel World - Power Opens 2014 With Win in St. Pete
- Oilpressure Blog – Random Thoughts on St. Petersburg