Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Preview

Can Sebastien Bourdais and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan make it three straight in St. Pete?
Can Sebastien Bourdais and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan make it three straight in St. Pete?

Race weekend: Friday, March 8 – Sunday, March 10

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:

INDYCAR website:

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.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Rob Howden and Ryan Myrehn reporting from the pits. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 216, XM 209,, and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT IndyCar Series practices and qualifying are available on, and the INDYCAR Mobile app, with qualifying also airing on Sirius 216 and XM 209.

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

Race Notes:

  • Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing begins defense of his 2018 NTT IndyCar Series championship at St. Petersburg. Dixon's five season championships trail only the seven titles collected by A.J. Foyt. Dixon is third on the all-time Indy car victory list with 44 but has never won at St. Petersburg. He has three runner-up finishes at the circuit.
  • The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the 16th Indy car race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Sebastien Bourdais, who makes his home in St. Petersburg, has won the last two races held on the streets of St. Petersburg. Paul Tracy won the inaugural race on Feb. 23, 2003, under CART sanction, while Bourdais started from the pole that year.
  • The St. Petersburg Indy car race has been run every year since 2003 with the exception of 2004. No driver has competed in every St. Petersburg race, but Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan have started 14 straight races. Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay competed in the first race in 2003.
  • Will Power (2010 and 2014) and Sebastien Bourdais (2017 and 2018) are the only entered drivers to win at St. Petersburg more than once. Helio Castroneves won three times (2006, 2007, 2012), while Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2015 and 2016. Past winners Graham Rahal (2008) and James Hinchcliffe (2013) are also entered.
  • Team Penske has won the pole position for eight of the last 12 St. Petersburg races, including seven of the last nine poles with Will Power. Past pole winners Sebastien Bourdais (2003), Tony Kanaan (2008), Graham Rahal (2009) and Takuma Sato (2014) are also entered this weekend.
  • Two drivers have won the race from the pole – Helio Castroneves (2007) and Will Power (2010). The St. Petersburg winner has qualified fourth in four of the last six seasons.
  • Team Penske has won at St. Petersburg eight times, including four of the last seven races with Helio Castroneves (2012), Will Power (2014) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2015-16). Andretti Autosport has two wins at St. Petersburg with Dan Wheldon (2005) and James Hinchcliffe (2013) while Dale Coyne Racing has won the last two races (Sebastien Bourdais). Chip Ganassi Racing (Dario Franchitti in 2011) has won once at St. Petersburg.
  • Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 301st consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Kanaan will attempt to make his 361st Indy car start, which ranks third on the all-time list.
  • Scott Dixon has made 241 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti has made 217 consecutive starts, which is the third-longest streak in Indy car racing.
  • Five rookies are entered and three – Marcus Ericsson, Ben Hanley and Felix Rosenqvist — will make their first NTT IndyCar Series start this weekend at St. Petersburg. The other Rookie of the Year candidates are Santino Ferrucci and Colton Herta.
  • Since 2012, the NTT IndyCar Series has averaged nine different race winners per season, including a record-tying 11 winners in 2014. There were eight different winners in the 17 races of 2018 with an equally tight competition projected for the season.
  • Drivers may engage their "push-to-pass" for a total of 150 seconds during the race, with a maximum duration of 15 seconds for any one 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. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower for 2019.


Josef Newgarden
Josef Newgarden

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "We had a really productive offseason. The team and I spent a lot of time reviewing 2018 data, and we learned a lot from our tests at COTA and Sebring. We've developed a new plan of attack that we believe will serve us well. Now, we're ready to get back on track and put forth a strong effort. The No. 2 Hitachi Chevy is looking strong this season. St. Pete is a track I really want to get a win at and we're ready to give it our all and put on a good show for the great fans at St. Pete."

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."

Tony Kanaan at St. Pete last year
Tony Kanaan at St. Pete last year

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "After a long offseason I can't wait to get in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for the NTT IndyCar Series season opener in St. Pete this weekend. The whole AJ Foyt Racing guys worked hard during the break and we're ready as we're going to be for the first race of 2019. I'm looking forward to getting to the track and showing the fans and our ABC Supply guests a good time and a solid race."

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."

The big controversy last year was Alexander Rossi punting Robert Wickens battling for the lead late in Turn 1
The big controversy last year was Alexander Rossi punting Robert Wickens battling for the lead late in Turn 1

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): "I'm thrilled that the season is finally upon us. I've been fortunate enough to be able to stay busy and behind the wheel of lots of cars thanks to Honda and Acura, but now the focus is fully on the 2019 INDYCAR season and picking up where we left off last year. We have had some strong tests leading into St. Pete this weekend, but it's clear that the competition is also stronger than ever, so we will have to be sure to execute every session. The NAPA Racing team and myself are in a good place and we look forward to kicking off the season in a strong way to indicate our intent to go one better than last year."

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."

Can Colton Herta dominate like he did in recent testing at COTA?
Can Colton Herta dominate like he did in recent testing at COTA?

BEN HANLEY (No. 81 10Star DragonSpeed Chevrolet): "I'm really looking forward to getting involved and having a solid weekend. We know it's going to be tough, like we've said all along, but at the same time we're not just here to tool around." (About his last race on a street course): "I mean, it's not all that fresh, my experience (on street circuits) was quite a while ago in Monaco. So in that sense it's a change, definitely a different thing for me. But I'm looking forward to it all the same."

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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