Verizon IndyCar Series Daily Brief – March 31st Edition

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

Restart Redux

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Lap 82 restart kerfuffle (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Lap 82 restart kerfuffle (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

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

Graham Rahal's helmet from the 2013 MAVTV 500 IndyCar Series finale. (Photo Courtesy of Graham Rahal Foundation)

Graham Rahal’s helmet from the 2013 MAVTV 500 IndyCar Series finale. (Photo Courtesy of Graham Rahal Foundation)

Bid early and bid often on the fan designed helmet that Graham Rahal wore during the 2013 MAVTV 500 IndyCar Series finale.

For charity –> Bid on Graham Rahal’s Race Worn MAVTV 500 Helmet

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+

Potential: A-

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:

Rank Driver Car Time Speed On Lap
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.

Driver Tweetables:

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 …

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.

Roll the tape

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Race Highlights:

RACER.com IndyCar Podium Interviews:

Where they stand

Driver Championship Standings

Rank Driver STP Total
1 Will Power 53 53
2 Ryan Hunter-Reay 40 40
3 Helio Castroneves 36 36
4 Scott Dixon 32 32
5 Simon Pagenaud 30 30
6 Tony Kanaan 28 28
7 Takuma Sato 28 28
8 Justin Wilson 24 24
9 Josef Newgarden 22 22
10 Ryan Briscoe 20 20
11 Sebastian Saavedra 19 19
12 Mikhail Aleshin 18 18
13 Sebastien Bourdais 17 17
14 Graham Rahal 16 16
15 Juan Montoya 15 15
16 Mike Conway 14 14
17 Carlos Munoz 13 13
18 Carlos Huertas 12 12
19 James Hinchcliffe 11 11
20 Charlie Kimball 10 10
21 Jack Hawksworth 9 9
22 Marco Andretti 8 8

Sunoco Rookie of The Year Standings

Rank Driver STP Total
1 Mikhail Aleshin 18 18
2 Carlos Munoz 13 13
3 Carlos Huertas 12 12
4 Jack Hawksworth 9 9

Manufacturer Championship Standings

Manufacturer STP Bonus Deduction Total
Chevy 121 0 0 122
Honda 73 0 0 72

Wrapping it up:

Some newsy and some opiniony…

 

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I have been an IndyCar fan since the mid 1980's and like to cover the news that no else does.

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