2012 Indy Lights season begins on Streets of St. Petersburg

The Firestone Indy Lights kicks off its 11th season under INDYCAR sanction on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The challenging course has hosted Firestone Indy Lights events since 2005 and has been an indication of the series champion since 2007, where all but two race winners (Junior Strous in 2009 and Richard Antinucci 2008 Race 2) have gone on to win the series title. Will the trend continue in 2012?

Repeat for Sam Schmidt Motorsports?

Sam Schmidt Motorsports returns to defend its 2011 drivers championship with a stout four-car lineup featuring two veteran returnees and two promising newcomers. Race winners Esteban Guerrieri and Victor Carbone join newcomers Tristan Vautier and Oliver Webb at St. Petersburg. Can one of them be the third-straight Schmidt driver to win the title?

Saavedra returns to chase title

Sebastian Saavedra who claimed three wins and the series rookie title in his two seasons in Firestone Indy Lights returns to the series with the team that gave him his first break in the series – AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport. Saavedra, who competed in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2011, will race the No. 27 AFS Racing car in hopes of securing the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship to move back to the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Talented field for 2012

The 2012 season features a talented field of international drivers with returning drivers Sebastian Saavedra, Jorge Goncalvez, David Ostella and Gustavo Yacaman among the series' favorites. A promising rookie class includes Oliver Webb (World Series by Renault/Firestone Indy Lights), Tristan Vautier and J.V. Horto (Star Mazda), Alon Day (Formula 3 Euro Series), Armaan Ebrahim (Formula 2) and Darryl Wills (Formula Car Challenge)

Race Notes:

Another debut winner at St. Pete?

Nine drivers have won their Firestone Indy Lights debut, including five who have won their first career race on the streets of St. Petersburg. Will another first-timer join Marco Andretti, Raphael Matos, Junior Strous, J.K. Vernay and Josef Newgarden as a first-time Firestone Indy Lights winner at St. Pete?

Local Light

One Firestone Indy Lights team will be racing in what is virtually a home race this weekend. Team E, which is based in New Port Richey, Fla., will be looking for its first win in its hometown. The team, owned by Florida businessman Neil Enerson has finished on the podium before, but can it reach the top step?

Season To Date:

· Four drivers who have won previously won a race in Firestone Indy Lights are entered in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Victor Carbone, Esteban Guerrieri, Sebastian Saavedra and Gustavo Yacaman.

· At least nine (9) rookie drivers are entered in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Eight will be making their series debut. Oliver Webb made three starts in 2011.

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