Beauty Out of Chaos- Quick Thoughts on St. Pete

Like a sculptor who has to make several attempts to make a poiece of art,who makes big mistakes and destroys the work in search of pergection, the beginning of the NTT Indycar season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg began in chaos and ended in a great three way fight for the lead.

The last 20 laps or so had great racing as Marcus Ericsson tracked down Pato O’Ward to take the win. Scott Dixon hing on to third but never really threatened the top two.

I can’t recall watching a race where two cars became airborne in two separate incidents.

The promiose of a great weekend for Andretti Autosport ended in the walls and tire walls of St.Petersburg. Colton Herta and Romain Grosjean threw away their front row starts. Kyle Kirkwood recovered from contact to salvage 16th place.

Whuch leads me to wonder-is Kirkwood the driver I believed him to be? He had a fresh start with a strong team, showed speed until his qualifying incident yesterday, thenhas more contact during the race. I guess we need to wait a little longer to find out.

Great job by Callum Ilott finishing fifrth. The top fic=ve is big boost to Juncos Hollinh=ger. Augustin canapino did a solid job finishing the race.

Alexander Rossi finished fourth in his Arrow McLaren debut. I hope we will see this type of performance consistently from him in 2023.

The Andretti/Mclaren rivalry may becoma a Ganassi/McLaren battle. Tody’s results had Ganassi first and third and McLaren second and fourth. This matchup would be an intriguing battle as the two teasms who have tussled over drivers go head rto head. Sixteen more times, please.

The Foyt’s team misfortunes continue. I don’t know how one team can consistently be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Indycar app did not work in the stands. I also heard from others at the track who had issues with it. It has not worked well all weekend. Let’s hope by Texas it is working properly.

I wonder why Indycar didn’y sweep the track during any of the caution periods,

Turfn three see,e=med the root of many of the troubles. The series might want to look at it before next March.

I will have a follow up story on the nrace tomorrow. Thanks for following along this weekend.

Herta Paces Warmup

Colton Herta turned the fastest lap in the final tunme up for this afternnonm’s Firestomne Grand Prix. Pole siteer Romain Grosjean finished the session 11th.

The 30 mminute perod ran without incident, but some drivers ran into runoff areas. Allwho did were able to get their cars back on track

\Kyle Kirkwood, who crashed on the first lap of the Fast Six, ended the morning second quick. Scott McLaughlin, who also ha an on ttack incident in qualifying, was 17th.

Callum Ilott and Josef Newgarden were the two fastest Chevrolets in fifth and sixth respectively. Newgarden could be a factor in the race despite his 14th starting spot.


I’ll be back in a bit with tire choices/

Race Day at St. Pete

Good morning race fans! The long Indycar winter ends today as the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg gets underway at approximately 12:20 pm Easten.

Today’s schedule:

8:00AM – 8:45AM USF2000 Race 2

9:00AM – 9:30AM NTT INDYCAR SERIES Warm UpPeacock

10:00AM – 10:55AM INDY NXT Race- Peacock

11:40AM NTT INDYCAR SERIES Driver Introductions

12:30PM NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RPFunding Race (100 Laps) NBC, Peacock

3:00PM – 3:45PM USF Pro 2000 Race 2

The last two races have been won by the polesitter, although in the overall history of the race, winning from the pole is not that common. I am still sticking with Colton Herta to win today’s race.

The St. Pete race is traditionally a two stop race. The strategy involves when to get the alternate tires out of the way. The majority of the race will be run on the primary.

There will be at least two caution periods, and I hope Indycar doesn’t wait to go yellow just so people vcan pit. Let the breaks of the game happen naturally.

Fast Six Facts

The average Indycar experience of the Fast Six drivers is 3.5 years, counting 2023. Herta is the “old man” of the group, entering his fifth season.

Despitw their experience, the group has 19 poles between them.Only Kyle Kirkwood and Marcus Ericsson have not won a pole.

Although Kirkwood was the first oen eliminated due to a crash in the final round, he starts fifth ahead of Scott Mclaughlin, who had his times erased when he spun about halfway through the session. Since neither driver ioficially posted a time in the Fast Six, the round 2 times determined their order. Kirkwood was second and McLauglin sixth in the round of 12.

I’ll be back after morning warmup with the starting lineup and starting tire choices.

It is going to be a great start to the season.,

Grosjean on Pole for St. Pete

Romain Grosjean survived a crash filled fast Six to win the pole for tomorrow’s Firestone Grand Prtix of St. Petersburg. It is his second career pole. Grosjwean led a trio of Andretti Autosport cars in the Fast Six. Teammate Colton Herta will start second. Kyle Kirkwood will start sixth after a crash early in the final round.

The top six:

Romain Grosjean 59.5532 seconds

Colton Herta 59.96871::

Pato O’Ward 1:00.163

Marcus Ericsson !:00,4435

Scott McLaughlin No Time

Kyle Kirkwood No Time


The second round featured three cars from Andretti, three from Arrow Mclaremand three from Ganassi. Team Penske had just two cars advance- McLaughlin and Will Power.

Kyle Kirkwood had a great weekend going until he locked up the brakes and hit the wall on the first lap of the Fast Six. I still think he will have a strong race tomorrow.

We may be seeing the beginning of a rivalry between Arrow McLaren and Andretti. The teams have had the strongest cars all weekend. Whar=t a great story to dollow this year.

Grosjean’s pole is the 50th for the Andretti organization.

I tried following qualifying on the updated Indycar app. There are still some bugs to work out. The session time always started at 15:00 minutes and didn’t correct until about four minutes remained. The positions updated slowly, with a driver listed twice as his spot changed.

The new qualifying procedure did not profuce a radical change from the past.

The lineup sopuld make for a very interesting race tomorrow. Tire strategy and how the cautions fall-and there will be cautions- will determine the outcome.

Rinus VeeKay felt his lap was hindered and cost him a chanc to advance. He will start 24th. Veekay was in the top six early in his round 1 group and poised for a final run.

Herta Leads Practice 2; Qualifying Groups Set

Colton Herta led the final practice before qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Herta’s time of 1:00.0779 was 0.0.0742 seconds ahead of defending pole and race winner Scott McLaughlin. Rinus VeeKay was third and Kyle Kirkwood fourth.

The top 14:

Qualifying Groups

Group 1 Group 2

McLaughlin Herta

Kirkwood VeeKay

Ericsson Palou

Rosenqvist Grosjean

O’Ward Rossi

Harvey Malukas

Lundgaard Dixon

Castroneves Newgarden

Pagenaud Daly

Armstrong Power

Canapino Ilott

Ferrucci Rahal

Robb Pedersen



The light blue nimbers on the Arrow McLaren cars look great when the cars are standing still, but they are hard to see at speed in the bright sunlight.

Mark MIles said attendance for the race weekend is approaching an other record attendance.

Qualifying begins at 2:15 pm Eastern on Peacock

Saturday at St. Pete

Today’s schedule:

7:55AM – 8:40AM       MX-5 Cup            Race 1
9:00AM – 9:45AMINDY NXT   Practice 2
10:00AM – 11:00AMNTT INDYCAR SERIES   Practice 2
11:15AM – 12:00PMUSF Pro 2000Race 1
12:15PM – 1:15PM SRO GT AmericaRace 2
1:35PM – 1:55PMINDY NXTQualifying
1:40PM – 2:10PM      USF2000Autograph Session – Outside Mahaffey Theater
2:15PM – 3:30PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESQualifying / Firestone Fast 6
3:45PM – 4:15PM      INDY NXTAutograph Session – Outside Mahaffey Theater
3:45PM – 4:30PM      USF2000Race 1
4:45PM – 5:30PM MX-5 CupRace 2

If yesterday’s practice is anynindication, it is going to be a very copmpetitve season. While Sc ott Dixon led the session at the end, Kyle Kirkwood was the star of the afternoon, leading for mosdt of the first practice. Kirkwood ended up fourth on the speed chart behind Dioxn, Colton Herta, and Alex Palou. Rinus VeeKay was the fastest Chevrolet in sixth place.

Kyle Kirkwood said about his run, “It’s definitely really nice to roll into the weekend with some with some peace, right? I mean, as everyone knows, the cars so close and if you’re behind by a couple of 10ths you’re really fighting to get that all weekend. Now it’s a good feeling, especially since Colton is up there too. And I think some of the other guys that ended up ahead of us Dixon and Palou . I think that they went to new tires at tthe end.”

The Friday crowd at St. Pete seems to get larger every year. Yesterday was one of the largest Fridays I’ve seen here.

I spoke qwith Jack Harvey this morning. he told me turn3 is very slippery and braking in turn 4 is tricky. Qualifying could be interesting this afternoon.

New Qualifying Procedures

For rounds 1 and 2, the first red flag stops the clock. Subsequent red flags do not. The session clock does not begin until the first car crosses the qualifying line between turns 13 and 14. This change should allow for at least one extra qualifying lap.

For the Firestone Fast Six, the cars are guarabteed the full six minutes.


Top to bottom: Felix Rosenqvist, Jack Harvey, Scott Dixon, Marcxus Ericsson

Dixon’s Late Lap Fastest in Friday Practice

In the end, the kids had to let the veterans through. Kyle Kirkwood led most of the last half of practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. In the last five minutes,first Alex palou then Scott Dixon beat his time. Colton Herta slipped into secpnd just before the checkered flag.

Dixon’s time of 1:01.6146 beat Herta by0.0329 swconds. The top five had a separation of 0.084 seconds.


Three red flags interrupted the session. Several cars had issues in turn 3. The Rahal letterman Lanigan Racing cars of Christian Lundgaard and Graham Rahal suffered brake issues.

I will have more about the day later this evening.

Rossi Making Smooth Transition to New Team

Alexander Rossi is happy with his move to Arrow McLaren for 2023. The 2016 Indianapolis 500 spent his first seven Indycar seasons with Andretti Autosport before signing with Arrow McLaren in early June last year. This morning Rossi said there is still a learning curve not only for him, but also for all the new personnel McLaren is bringing in. He thinks he will get a better idea of the differences between his old and new team after the race,.

“It’s hard to say immediately because we’ve got a race weekend.” Rossi said. “You know, there’s just a lot of obvious structure that exists in an organization from top to bottom. And I’m sure a lot of it comes from, you know, the overarching brand, getting out and about doing things and running race teams. You know, like, there’s pros and cons that are two ways you go about it, you can run them and be like, Oh, I kind of want to vice versa. So there are some some differences that can ultimately be successful if you have anything else. It’s been nice to see areas that they are different in various matters.”

Rossi explained that hisn transition was a little more challengin vecause McLaren hired 40 new people during the off season to accomodate the third car.

” Because we had so many new people in general, like everyone just kind of going through a process. It is challenging in terms of the actual application, being easy to get to work doing what we need to in our condensed timeframe.”

Rossi’s biggest concern this weekend? Driving into the pit of his former team.”This weekend my pit box is right in front of my old 27, so I’m just like please do not drive into that one. So that’s my only concern. It’s pretty easy now to think that you know, the seven car driver tweeted at me like I had to read it a couple of times because I was like, Am I allowed to say this? I mean, it’s been everyone’s been super welcoming.”

Rossi said it was sad to leave his old team after seven tears.

“But you know, I still I’m still very close with Jeremy and Scott and obviously, I’m still in communication with them. So I don’t feel like a whole life changing. ”

Rossi is ot changing his driving approiach with his new team.

“I’m just going out and execute,” he said.

The difference between the Chevroley and Honda engines surprised him.

“I was surprised that engines with basically the same architecture could be that different. They are very different in the way they make power and deliver it. It took some gettinmg used to,” he said.

Alexander Rossi left a formerly elite team that has struggled recently to join a team that is on the verge of joining the top of the grid. I look for have some struggles early, but by Road America Rossi should return to his championship form.