IndyCar: St. Petersburg GP Preview

Momentum and anticipation continue to grow for the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES opener Sunday, Feb. 27 on the Streets of St. Petersburg for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. Here’s a look at the year ahead for North America’s premier open-wheel series:

Traditions Return for NBC Showcase

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES season begins in grand fashion with the first six races on NBC network television. Four May weekends also will be featured on broadcast television, including Last Chance Qualifying and the Fast Nine Shootout leading up to the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, Sunday, May 29.

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Among the INDYCAR traditions to return in 2022 will be the Honda Indy Toronto. After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the series returns to the famous Toronto street layout Sunday, July 17. The area is rich with INDYCAR SERIES history as it first hosted the series in 1986. Simon Pagenaud, who drives for Meyer Shank Racing, is the last to win there, in 2019.

The following weekend, INDYCAR returns to the ultra-fast and thrilling D-shaped oval of Iowa Speedway for the new Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend doubleheader Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24. A festival-like atmosphere of concerts and other attractions will greet the series, including driver Josef Newgarden of Team Penske, who last won on the track known as “The Fastest Short Track on the Planet” in 2020.

In all, NBC will feature a record 14 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races in 2022 with two events set to appear on USA Network. Races, practices and qualifying sessions will be featured on Peacock Premium, with NBC Group’s expanding streaming service also providing exclusive coverage from the Streets of Toronto.

For the first time, Telemundo Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener, the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and the season finale. The award-winning INDYCAR Radio Network has coverage of every on-track session throughout 2022.

“Anticipation towards the start of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season is palpable,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “It is terrific to know the wait is almost over as we approach a marquee year for our series and its stars.

“Kicking off the season in St. Petersburg, followed by three thrilling spring events, is an ideal lead-in to the Month of May, where demand is outpacing all years since the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. The season hits another gear following the ‘500’ with a jam-packed summer punctuated by our return to Iowa and Nashville. Both will prove to be extraordinary events. Combined with our TV partner NBC, we cannot wait to showcase the daring and bold athletes of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”

Paddock Pieces

A young, diverse and successful class of six audacious rookies are set to join and compete against no fewer than 20 veteran NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers, including reigning series champion Alex Palou. With the expansion of A.J. Foyt Racing and Meyer Shank Racing, the 2022 championship totals 26 full-time entries. It is the largest full-time entry list for the INDYCAR SERIES in a decade.

Among the battles to follow will be the PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge, announced last month. The first entry to win on all three types of circuits – road course, street circuit and oval – will split $1 million with the race team and the driver’s chosen charity. PeopleReady is offering an additional $10,000 to the winner of every race this season, also to be split with the driver’s favorite charitable organization.

In 2022, INDYCAR will gradually introduce the EM Motorsport Marshalling System. The new addition will supplement the use of cloth flags with up to 20 EM Motorsport light panels deployed on road and street circuits. The ultra-bright LED displays will use the same flag codes as existing flags and will still be operated by track marshals via a handheld console.

When fully implemented, all race cars and light panels will carry EM Motorsport GPS units, which will create marshalling sectors to help identify cars as they pass through local yellow sectors. New to 2022, any car that passes through a local yellow will lose that timed lap in practice and qualifying, which will help expedite session officiating. As in the past, any driver that causes a local yellow will lose their fastest timed lap.

Other adjustments to the 2022 rulebook include, for safety, the banning of “pushing” or assisting cars out of their pit stall at the completion of a pit stop.

Pit box locations will be selected in order of entrant qualification results from the previous event in 2022. The order will not be affected by penalties for unapproved engine changes. The process of selecting pit positions for the Indianapolis 500 will remain based on “500” qualifying.

The use of barge boards on the Dallara AK-18 chassis are now optional on all ovals with the introduction of the aerodynamic tool at Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway in 2022. The curved, plate-shaped piece of carbon fiber, located on the leading edge of the underwing, creates front downforce while reducing the reliance of the front wing.

“In race conditions, it should be a benefit to a trailing car,” said Tino Belli, INDYCAR director of aerodynamic development. “Using barge boards combined with less front wing angle will allow cars to follow more closely while still avoiding an aero washout affect through the corners. It also follows the philosophy we have always had with the universal AK-18 to create downforce with the underwing rather than being reliant on the front wing. These optional barge boards will become another crucial tool in the teams’ aerodynamic arsenal.”

Also, where possible, NTT INDYCAR SERIES non-oval practice sessions will be blocked for 60 minutes to allow for a better opportunity to complete the traditional 45-minute session – compensating for unexpected red flag periods.

“We are constantly evaluating ways to improve the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “We examine every aspect – from safety and officiating to on-track competition – and believe the changes will add to the series’ level of energy, momentum and deep competitive balance.”

On the Horizon

It is expected to be another season of historic moments for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Six-time series champion Scott Dixon returns to drive the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. The 41-year-old continues his pursuit to tie the legendary A.J. Foyt for all-time INDYCAR SERIES championships with seven.

Helio Castroneves returns full-time in 2022 to drive the No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Meyer Shank Racing Honda. The 46-year-old will attempt to become the first five-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. Forty-year-old Will Power once again will pilot the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet and begins the season just four poles away from tying the legendary Mario Andretti’s all-time record of 67.

Meanwhile, the series prepares for the future as work continues with Chevrolet and Honda toward a new engine package. The 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 with hybrid technology, which is expected to produce a total of 900 horsepower, is expected to debut in 2023.

“Last season was an amazing year with historic storylines throughout 2021,” Frye said. “With the effort by everyone in the off season and the continued growth of the paddock, we expect 2022 to be even better. We cannot wait to see it play out.”

Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, Feb. 25Sunday, Feb. 27

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

Race distance: 100 laps / 180 miles (NTT INDYCAR SERIES) | 60 minute timed race (Indy Lights)

Push-to-pass parameters (NTT INDYCAR SERIES): 150 seconds of total time with a maximum single duration of 15 seconds. The push-to-pass is not available on the initial start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race

Firestone tire allotment (NTT INDYCAR SERIES): Six sets primary, four sets alternate. One additional set is available to rookie drivers for use in the Friday afternoon practice session

Twitter: @GPSTPETE, @INDYCAR, @IndyLights #FirestoneGP, #INDYCAR

Event website:

INDYCAR website:

2021 race winner: Colton Herta, 1:51:51.4115, 96.552 mph

2021 NTT P1 Award winner: Colton Herta, 1:00.3210, 107.425 mph

Qualifying lap record: Jordan King, 1:00.0476; 107.914 mph, March 10, 2018 (set in Round 1 of qualifying)

NBC Sports telecast: Race, noon ET Sunday, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey is the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee and Dave Burns are the pit reporters. Spanish-language telecast will be available on Telemundo.

Peacock Premium Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying and Indy Lights races will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.

INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Nick Yeoman, Jake Query and Michael Young are the turn announcers. Ryan Myrehn and Alex Wollf are the pit reporters The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race and all NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying sessions air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 160, and the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA. All Indy Lights practice and qualifying sessions and races are available on, the INDYCAR App and SiriusXM 160.

At-track schedule (All Times Local/Eastern Time): 

Friday, Feb. 25

10:05-10:50 a.m. –  Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires practice

3:40-4:25 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, Peacock Premium

1:40-2:10 p.m. –  Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying

5:40-6:10 p.m. – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires practice

Saturday, Feb. 26

9-9:45 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, Peacock Premium

12:30-1:45 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), Peacock Premium (Live)

Sunday, Feb. 27

8:45-9:15 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock Premium

9:30 a.m. – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (60 minutes), Peacock Premium (Live)

Noon – NBC Sports on air

12:23 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”

12:30 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding (100 laps / 181 miles), NBC, Telemundo and Peacock Premium (Live)


  • The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding will be the 19th INDYCAR SERIES race on the streets of St. Petersburg, dating to 2003. Colton Herta won the 2021 race after starting from the pole position. Paul Tracy won the inaugural race on Feb. 23, 2003, under CART sanction, while Sebastien Bourdais started from the pole that year.
  • The St. Petersburg INDYCAR race has been run every year since 2003 except for 2004. No driver has competed in every St. Petersburg race, but Scott Dixon has started 17 consecutive races.
  • Herta can continue a streak of back-to-back race winners at St. Petersburg that began in 2015. Juan Pablo Montoya won back-to-back St. Petersburg races in 2015 and 2016, while Sebastien Bourdais won in 2017 and 2018. Josef Newgarden won back-to-back in 2019 and 2020.
  • Dixon seeks his first win on the streets of St. Petersburg. Dixon’s six NTT INDYCAR SERIES championships trail only the seven INDYCAR SERIES titles collected by A.J. Foyt. Dixon is third on the all-time INDYCAR SERIES victory list with 51 wins and can tie Mario Andretti for second with his next win, but has never won at St. Petersburg. He has four runner-up finishes at the circuit.
  • Helio Castroneves (2006, 2007 and 2012), Will Power (2010 and 2014) and Josef Newgarden (2019-2020) are the only entered drivers to win at St. Petersburg more than once. Five past winners are entered: Castroneves, Power, Newgarden, Graham Rahal (2008) and Herta.
  • Team Penske has won the pole position 10 of the past 15 St. Petersburg races, including nine of the last 12 poles by Power. Along with Power, previous pole winners Rahal (2009), Takuma Sato (2014) and Herta are entered this weekend.
  • Team Penske has won at St. Petersburg 10 times, including six of the last 10 races with Castroneves (2012), Power (2014), Montoya (2015-16) and Newgarden (2019-2020).
  • Three drivers have won the race from the pole – Castroneves (2007), Power (2010) and Herta (2021). The St. Petersburg winner has qualified fourth in four of the last nine seasons.
  • Dixon has made 288 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in INDYCAR SERIES history.
  • Jack Harvey will make his 50th INDYCAR SERIES start at St. Petersburg.
  • Rookies Tatiana Calderon, Devlin DeFrancesco, Kyle Kirkwood and David Malukas will make their NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut at St. Petersburg.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Notes:

  • The 14-car field for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the largest Indy Lights field at St. Petersburg since 2017.
  • The 2021 season features a deep and talented field with race winners such as Linus Lundqvist and Matt Brabham joining a promising rookie class that includes Christian Rasmussen (Indy Pro 2000 champ), Hunter McElrea (Indy Pro 2000), Kyffin Simpson (Formula Regional Americas champion) and Ernie Francis Jr. (seven-time Trans Am champion/Formula Regional Americas). Other contenders include returning drivers Danial Frost, Sting Ray Robb and Benjamin Pedersen.
  • Three new teams have joined the series for 2022, TJ Speed Motorsports, led by Indy Lights championship-winning engineer Tim Neff, Road to Indy stalwart Abel Motorsports and African-American-led Force Indy.
  • Since 2005, the driver who won at least one of the races at St. Petersburg has gone on to win the Indy Lights title six times, including Kyle Kirkwood, who won the first race of the doubleheader in 2021.


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