St. Pete Preview

Today’s schedule:

7:50AM – 8:20AM Mazda MX-5 Cup Practice 1
8:35AM – 9:20AM SRO GT America Practice 1
9:35AM – 10:10AM USF Pro 2000 Practice
10:25AM – 11:00AM USF2000 Practice
11:15AM – 11:45AM Mazda MX-5 Cup Practice 2
12:00PM – 12:25PM SRO GT America Practice 2
12:30PM – 12:45PM SRO GT America Qualifying 1
12:30PM – 1:30PM NTT INDYCAR SERIES Autograph Session
1:00PM – 1:30PM USF Pro 2000 Qualifying
1:55PM – 2:40PM INDY NXT Practice 1
3:00PM – 4:15PM NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 1 Peacock
4:30PM – 5:00PM USF2000 Qualifying
5:15PM – 5:35PM Mazda MX-5 Cup Qualifying
5:55PM – 6:35PM SRO GT America Race 1

Indycar returns after what seemed like an unusually long offseason. We need to discuss its length at some point, but today we will just be happy that the series is. The Firestone Grand prix of St. Petersburg begins with a 3 pm eastern practice session. I find it hard to believe that tSunday will be the 20th runnong of this street race, which I have seen grow tremendously since my first visit in 2013.

Today’s 75 minute peractice might see more track action. Each yeam has an additional sert of alternate tires and an additional set of primaries, which must be returned after the practice today. Indycar hopes the additional rubber will allow teams to run more laps rather than sit and save their alternate tires for the race. The alternate tire may be used in both practice sessions instead of toaday only as in the past.

This weekend will be the saecond race for the quayule tires, markd the debut of Shell biofuels and lubricants in the series. I don’t expect a driop off in performance. The green brandedquayale tires will be in use at all street courses ub 2023.

WHile the openeing race won’t tell how a team will perform over the entire season, we may get some hints. The big questions- has Andretti Autosport improved? Is Arrow McLaren ready to consistently run up front? Will we see a sophomore surge from David Malukas and Kyle Kirkwood? Today may give a ckue, but a bigger hunt will come in tomorrow’s qualifying.

St. Petersburg is a rac that Team Penske has dominated. The team has won 11 of the races since 2004, Will Pow2eer alone has nine poles, and just missed in 2018 and 2022. The track has produced a series of back to back winners- Helio Castroneves in 2006 and 2007; Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015 and 2016; Sebastien Bourdais in 2017 and 2018; and Josef newgarden in 2019 and 2020, If nthis trend holds, Scott McLaughlin will win again Sunday.

I think we will have a different winner from a deifferent team this year. I look for Colton Herta to come out strong and win the race.

Follow along all weekend for coverage of all on track sessions and some interviews I’m looking to secure.