The good thing about Indycar back to back weekends is that the teams and drivers who had a hard time last week have a chance to recover immediately. The bad thing about this scheduling is that the teams who did well have pressure to stay op front. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is ususally a race where starting at the front is an advantage. Yet in 2018 Sebastien Bourdais won from last place. Last October’s race was a wild affair decided in the last few laps.
A few things to watch for this weekend.
Josef Newgarden should come back with a strong showing after his first lap mishap at Barber last weekend. Newgarden has won at St. Pete the last two years, continuing a pattern of back to back winners. Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2015 and 2016, Sebastien Bourdais won in 2017 and 2018. No one has won this event three years in a row. Newgarden doesn’t usually have two bad races in a row. If he isn’t the winner, I expect him to be on the podium.
Andretti Team Needs a Good Weekend
Andretti Autosport looked as if they were set for good results at Barber. Alexander Rossi started on the front row, and Colton Herta just missed the Fast Six despite a practice crash. Herta and teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay were taken out of contention before completing a lap. Rossi faded to a ninth place finish. James Hinchcliffe never found the pace.
In the October race, the entire team looked strong, and both Rossi and Herta had a chance to win until late accidents took them out. The rest of the team was doing well until late race mishaps ruined their days. The team needs to bring the strength they showed in the 2020 finale and complete the task. Last year they got off to a rough start, and a good showing at Str. Pete will help get them on the right path.
Foyt, Bourdais Hope to Build on Good Start
Sebastien Bourdais might be the driver who brings A. J. Foyt Racing back to competitiveness. Bourdais qualified eighth at Barber and finished fifth after leading a lap. At St. Pete last fall, Bourdais qualified well and finished fourth. Another good showing will give the team some momentum for the rest of the season. Bourdais has won at St. Pete twice.
think they will have another decent weekend. They won’t be contending for wins this season, but Bourdais should be fighting for spots in the top half of the field.
Romain Grosjean, Scott McLaughlin, and Jimmie Johnson did reasonably well in their debut last weekend, but today begins a new challenge. Grosjean advanced to the second ropund of qualifying and finished 10th. McLaughlin finished 14th. Johnson escaped damage in the first lap incidenrt with some nice maneuvers and waa running at the finish.
Street courses are a different animal. I’m interested to see how the trio responds to the challenges of this tight short course.
I look for Newgarden to have a strong weekend and perhaps take his third straight St. Pete race. If he doesn’t win, Newgarden will take a big step toward getting back into the title chase. Scott Dixon has never won at this track, but given the Ganassi team’s great performance overall last week,
Andretti team recovery
Newgarden Bounces back
Can Foyt keep it going
AMSP- learn from strategy error?