Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Preview
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.
Entry list: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (PDF)
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: www.gpstpete.com
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2018 race winner: Sebastien Bourdais (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda)
2018 NTT P1 Award winner: Robert Wickens (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda), 1 minute, 1.6643 seconds, 105.085 mph
Qualifying lap record: Jordan King, 1:00.0476; 107.914 mph, March 10, 2018 (set in Round 1 of qualifying).
NBCSN telecasts: Qualifying, 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, March 9 (live); Race, 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday, March 10 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for NBCSN alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller.
NBC Sports Gold Live Streaming: All NTT IndyCar Series practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports' direct-to-consumer live streaming product that will put more INDYCAR programming content at viewers' fingertips than ever before. In addition, full-broadcast, same-day replays of NTT IndyCar Series races, live streams of Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires races, edited cutdowns of NTT IndyCar Series and Indy Lights races and more will be available.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, March 8
10:45 - 11:30 a.m. - NTT IndyCar Series practice #1, NBC Sports Gold
2:20 - 3:05 p.m. - NTT IndyCar Series practice #2, NBC Sports Gold
Saturday, March 9
10:25 - 11:10 a.m. - NTT IndyCar Series practice #3, NBC Sports Gold
2:30 p.m. - Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg qualifying (Three rounds of knockout qualifications), NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold
Sunday, March 10
9:20 - 9:50 a.m. - NTT IndyCar Series warm-up, NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m. - NBCSN on air
1:30 p.m. - "Drivers, start your engines"
1:37 p.m. - Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg green flag
FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG PRE-EVENT QUOTES:
MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "First of all, it's great to get back behind the wheel. I feel like the offseason was a bit too long and I missed being frequently at the track. St Petersburg is a special place for me, it's my home track (due to the fact I have lived in Florida since I moved to the U.S.) and probably my favorite street/road course track on the calendar. Last year we had a great time when we qualified third overall for my first-ever Indy car race. Our team, AJ Foyt Racing, has been working very hard these past months and we're all motivated for the beginning of the season, and looking forward to a solid year. Can't wait to get going on Friday!"
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "We say it every year, but with the limited track time this winter, I'm so happy to be headed back to St. Pete to get things rolling! Even being at COTA with the whole field was such a nice feeling, so getting back to racing will be awesome. And St. Pete is such a great place to start the season - one of my favorite events. Hopefully, we can get back to winner's circle and give Arrow a double podium."
MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "First Indy car race of my career - super exciting, of course. It's been a fun winter with preparations and testing. I've really been settling in well with the team; it's a great bunch of people and they have really helped me get up to speed with everything. St. Pete looks like a fun race and a fun weekend to kick off the season, and I can't wait to get there and get off to a good start in INDYCAR with Arrow SPM!"
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I can't wait to get started. There is just a ton of momentum around this championship right now. We'll see if we can actually defend one of these titles for a change. We haven't seemed to figure out how to repeat, so hopefully, it's our year. The whole PNC Bank team has been working hard to get us ready for this weekend. I'm excited to have Felix (Rosenqvist) as a teammate and think we'll really be able to work well together and push each other."
FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I've got a nice feeling for St. Pete. I'm really composed and good to go. Having said that, the first round of any championship - and especially here for me now in the NTT IndyCar Series, as a rookie - is always an uncertainty. We need to wait and see how we compare to our rivals. All I can say is that I'm as well prepared as I could be and I'm driving better than ever right now - as for the rest, we will find out come Sunday next week in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I'm excited to head to St. Pete. The offseason was great. I was able to spend a lot of time with family and I really enjoyed it. It was an awesome break but now we're ready to get back to work. We had a couple of helpful tests and gathered a lot of data that we believe is going to help us start strong this season. St. Pete is a really important race because if you do well, it can give you great momentum that can help lead to the championship race at Laguna Seca, so we're really keeping that in mind. I'm a big fan of street-course racing because there's nothing like the energy from the fans, and St. Pete is always a really fun place. The No. 12 Verizon Chevy team has done a lot of work during the offseason to get a great car ready and I can't wait to get back on track."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): "I am eager to get going. While the offseason has been good, it's also been busier than in-season for me. I am excited to just turn my focus completely to racing and doing our best to go out there and win this year. We have a great opportunity ahead of us, a strong team, great sponsor support, and I have a feeling it should be an awesome year for our program. I feel like there are a lot of areas we have improved over the offseason. Preseason testing has gone well, Allen (McDonald, race engineer), Eddie (Jones, race engineer), Tom (German, technical director), the entire engineering staff and team have done a great job banging their heads together and finding some new and exciting ideas for us. We have done a lot of development and I foresee that paying off big for us. We have done well at St. Pete, but more importantly, it's just one of my favorite venues and race weekends. I'm glad to be going back to a place we did well at last year, and I am hopeful we can do one spot better this time around. I certainly do not see why winning my second at St. Pete isn't possible!"
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): "St. Pete is my home race and it is an honor to represent the city during race weekend. My first Indy car race was here in 2003 and I took the pole, but until the last two years, I really didn't have a lot of success here. It took 15 years, and now I am the two-time defending champion and that feels good. I don't feel any additional pressure to do well...but it's nice to be able to sleep in my own bed and have friends and family at the track." (About the start of the season): "I am looking forward to the start of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season. I want to thank Dale Coyne, Jimmy Vasser and 'Sulli' (James Sullivan) for the opportunity to move forward with the program we started two years ago with the support of Honda. I also want to thank SealMaster and all of our sponsors for their support. This is a small team, but we have proven we can take poles and win races. I think we are now putting together what hopefully is a consistent program that can compete at the highest level."
SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 David Yurman Honda): "I'm really excited that it's finally the start of the season, I've been waiting six months for this. It's been a long offseason, everyone at Dale Coyne Racing has been working really hard and I can't wait to get back into the car. We've had some good tests leading up to this first race of the season and I'm looking forward to getting on track in St. Petersburg this week. It will be a new track for me and while I've done some simulation work to prepare and having talked to Sebastien (Bourdais) about this circuit that he knows really well, I can't wait to discover it for myself aboard my No. 19 David Yurman entry."
ED JONES (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet): "I'm very excited to get going at St. Pete, which will be my first race with Scuderia Corsa and Ed Carpenter Racing. I've had a good record at St. Pete in the past and it's always nice to return to one of my favorite tracks. We worked through a lot of challenges in preseason testing, but that can sometimes be good as it keeps everyone on their toes and pushing for improvement."
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "I can't wait to get started in St. Petersburg. It is always a special event because not only does it kick off the season, it's also my home race. I have lots of friends and family that come, which just adds to the weekend for me. Everyone at Ed Carpenter Racing has been working very hard over the winter to prepare for 2019. We've been looking forward to the start of the season for a quite a while now. We're all confident that we've made improvements and are eager to show it at the first race."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): "It's finally time for St Petersburg. I'm really excited about going racing. We had a great winter at Team Penske with fantastic teamwork. The No. 22 Menards Chevy crew is ready to tackle 2019 and we all feel positive going forward. Preseason testing went well; we feel well prepared and the car is competitive. The St. Petersburg weekend is always very exciting being the first race of the year, and I personally love the adrenaline of racing an Indy car in the streets!"
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Carlin Chevrolet): "I always love going back to St. Petersburg for the first race of the NTT IndyCar Series season, because it feels a little like the first day of school. It's been a long, sometimes very cold, offseason and I'm excited to get back to the Florida sunshine, get back in the No. 23 Tresiba Carlin Chevrolet, and hit the racetrack in 2019. I'm also looking forward to introducing our daughter to the world of INDYCAR!"
ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): "I'm excited to be showing up to St. Pete for the second time in an Indy car. So much was learned during my first season and we've spent a lot of time preparing this winter. Our preseason testing went really well and I'm ready to start the year off right in the Gainbridge car."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete can't come soon enough. We're looking to pick up where we left off by capitalizing on the momentum we had at the end the 2018 season with a pole and victory at Sonoma. The offseason testing program has gone very well thanks to all the hard work from not only the No. 28 DHL crew and engineering staff, but from everyone at Andretti Autosport. We're looking forward to collecting more hardware for DHL, AutoNation and Honda in 2019."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Panasonic / Seeman Holtz Honda): "I am extremely excited about the new 2019 season. I had a great offseason in both the U.S. and Japan but it was really non-stop as usual, so I feel it quickly turned around to March. The team did a lot of winter development and preparation and I think we had very productive preseason tests. St. Petersburg is always a perfect venue for the opening race. It has such a great atmosphere and the track presents an exciting race all the time. I really feel good about this year as it's my second year with RLL after my return and everything works seamlessly so I'm really looking forward to going back to racing at St. Petersburg this weekend."
MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): "It's a great feeling when we finally get back on track after a long offseason, especially with the season opener in St. Pete. The city does a really great job of not only giving us a competitive street circuit but also embracing the event and giving the fans a first-class racing experience. I'm back with Carlin for their second season in the series and I think it's going to be a great season with all of the progress we have made since last year. I'm really looking forward to getting the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet back out on track in St. Pete and hopefully starting our season off with a good result."
JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM MSR w/ Arrow SPM Honda): "Where we are this year compared to last year is a night-and-day difference. We spent the whole year understanding each other and how INDYCAR works. We have been working really hard, and hopefully, we can show the work that we have put in during the offseason and show that not just at St. Pete but in the entire season. I think the foundation work that we have done will hopefully cement our long-term future."
COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Harding Group Honda): "The NTT IndyCar Series season is finally around the corner and the prep is done! Now all there is to do is drive the car as fast as possible. I'm really excited to get going with the Harding Steinbrenner guys at one of my favorite races, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The entire team has put so much hard work and effort into the No. 88 Honda-powered Indy car, so I'm ready to showcase their hard work and get the season going!"
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): "I'm excited to get the season started. Last year we had a new car and now with a year of learning how it rides and better understanding it, I think the U.S. Concrete team will be much more competitive. We've been working hard this offseason to build on where we left off at the end of 2018. I have a new engineer, Mark Bryant, and we're working really well together so I'm eager to see where 2019 takes us."
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