Who's hot heading into St. Pete
Coming out of the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on March 14, who is carrying momentum into the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 28?
It's the second consecutive street race ... the circuit about eight-tenths of a mile shorter than Sao Paulo, but has four more corners (15). Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe was the 2009 winner by 0.4619 of a second over Ryan Hunter-Reay (then with Vision Racing), and both are favorites this year.
Briscoe appeared in control midway through the Sao Paulo Indy 300, but he locked up the brakes entering Turn 5 and the No. 6 Team Penske car nosed into the tire barrier, allowing Hunter-Reay to pass for the lead. Briscoe's teammate, Will Power, won the season opener, overtaking Hunter-Reay in the tricky final corner with eight laps left.
Power's other victory came also came on a street circuit (Edmonton in '09, where he started from the pole), and his second pole start came on the Long Beach street course last year.
Vitor Meira wiped away tears as he heard countrymen shouting him name and waving the Brazilian flag after the race. It was an emotional moment for the resident of the capital city of Brasilia following an inspirational race. He started 16th in the ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing and finished third. It was the best result for the team since Watkins Glen in '08 (Darren Manning was runner-up).
“They waited 10 months and they believed in me after four races, so I just have to thank A.J. and the whole ABC Supply crew," said Meira, who was competing in his first IZOD IndyCar Series race since suffering a back injury in the Indianapolis 500 last May. "Having experienced it, it’s very hard to have this happen to a driver. After having a big accident and having a team waiting on you, and then come back in a big way at home, it doesn’t get much better than that. I’m very pleased with everybody.”
How about Raphael Matos, the 2009 rookie of the year for Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports, who recorded an IZOD IndyCar Series' best finish of third?
And has all the off-season karting Dan Wheldon helped to improve his road/street course driving? Wheldon tied his '09 best finish on a street course with a fifth place. He won at St. Pete in 2005, the inaugural year of the event.
Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion and Sao Paulo Indy 300 pole sitter Dario Franchitti finished seventh. He's participated in the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session eight consecutive times -- three times starting from the pole. IndyCar.com