St. Pete Extends Indycar Through 2026

Indycar now has its season opener set for the next five years as the St. Pete City Council unanimously agreed to an extension of the race through 2026 on the event’s original date in March. The full announcement from the city:

St. Petersburg City Council unanimously extends Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg through 2026

Grand Prix will return to its traditional March date in 2022
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 9, 2021) – The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will remain a cornerstone event on the downtown streets and waterfront through at least 2026. St. Petersburg City Council unanimously approved a two-year extension to the existing agreement with Green Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC (GSSP) on June 3rd.
This spring break racing tradition has been a marquee event on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ annual calendar for the past 17 years. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg brings worldwide exposure and spectators from across the globe to the City of St. Petersburg. 
“I am thrilled that the Grand Prix will be in the Sunshine City through 2026. I want to thank City Council for recognizing the importance of this race in St. Pete,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. “I also want to thank Kim (Green) and Kevin (Savoree), and everyone at the Grand Prix for not only organizing and promoting one of our city’s best events year after year, but for their dedication to our community.”
Set to return to its traditional position on the calendar during the second weekend of March in 2022, the dates for the next five Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg races are:
March 10-13, 2022 March 9-12, 2023 March 7-10, 2024 March 6-9, 2025 March 12-15, 2026
“There is no better backdrop than downtown St. Petersburg and its picturesque waterfront for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to showcase the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of GSSP. “The success and continued growth of the event has only been possible with the overwhelming support and collaboration with the City of St. Petersburg’s Councillors, Mayor Kriseman and his fantastic team.” 
The City of St. Petersburg’s “Embrace the Race” campaign has worked alongside local businesses to create a great experience for visitors. The efforts multiply the economic impact which the race has on St. Petersburg and local surrounding communities each year.
The event has also had an ongoing impact on the local community through fundraising efforts for the Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg. Over a four-year span via the MBA 5K Run on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Track, over $216,000 has been raised for the Police Athletic League and American Stage Theatre. The 5K run and walk event is planned to return in 2022 after being put on pause for 2021. 
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is run on a 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary waterfront circuit that includes a combination of adjacent downtown streets circling Pioneer Park, The Mahaffey Theater, the Salvador Dali Museum and extending onto the runways of Albert Whitted Airport. The set up and tear down process has become more efficient each year. Most recently it took 25 days to construct the circuit and the removal was done within six days thanks to the support of local vendors like Stepp’s Towing and the development of a collaborated plan with the City of St. Petersburg’s administration and events team. 
For event information, visit gpstpete.com. Also, follow the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on social media using #FirestoneGP for additional ongoing updates and news. 

About Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is a race event held during Florida’s spring break season each March and rescheduled to the last weekend of April this year. Traditionally the site of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ season-opening race, St. Pete is a destination city hosting this annual motorsports tradition and offering a festival atmosphere with its downtown location. The temporary circuit is a 1.8-mile, 14-turn configuration using the streets circling Pioneer Park, the Duke Energy Center for the Arts, The Dali Museum and extending onto the runways at Albert Whitted Airport, which overlooks the waterfront of Tampa Bay and picturesque St. Petersburg Harbor and Marina. Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is owned and operated by Green Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC. Green Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC is owned by Green Savoree Racing Promotions 2, LLC whose other subsidiaries also promote three additional INDYCAR races, The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (July 2-4, 2021), Honda Indy Toronto, and Grand Prix of Portland (Sept. 10-12, 2021). 
For more information, visit gpstpete.com, ‘like’ its Facebook page at @GPSTPETE or follow the event on Twitter @GPSTPETE and Instagram @GPSTPETE using #FirestoneGP.

Quick Thoughts- Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

I am officially old. I saw Bryan Herta win races as an adult and have now seen his son win races.

Colton Herta put on a master driving clinic today., He led all but three laps and pulled away from Josef Newgarden on two late restarts.

Herta has tied his father Bryan on the career victory list with his fourth win today. He will pass his dad later this season.

The tire choices to start the 4ace made for some interesting tactic. The field was split evenly between primary and alternates. Hearts said after the race he didn’t notice much difference.

Still waiting for Alexander Rossi to have a decent weekend. Rossi expected to fight for the title but is mired in 16th place after two frustrating weekends.

While their finishes at Barber may hurt their championship chances a bit, both Herta and Newgarden did what they needed to do to get back in the hunt.

Pato O’Ward struggled in the morning warmup and was never a factor in the race. Fortunately, it is still early in the season, but he needs good results at Texas next weekend.

Will Power and Scott Dixon have shown early season consistency. Dixon is the only driver with two Top 5s. Power is one of three drivers with two Top 10s. Dixon and Power are tied for second, two points behind Palou. Palou’s lead is two because he led two laps today.

Sebastien Bourdais has brought the Foyt car home in the top 10 the past three races, going back to the 2020 season finale. It was a bit of a tough day, but if they can have a decent showing on the ovals, atop 10 points finish is possible.

Despite Herta being way out front most of the day, there was some great action back in the pack, Takuma Sato moved up nine spots from where hje started, and Power improved 12 positions.

Turn one was a festival of cars banging together. Only a few times did the collisions affect someone’s race. James Hinchcliffe was hit hard by Sato and fell back.

Chip Ganassi Racing is more than Dixon in 2021. Last Week Alex Palou won the race. Today Marcus Ericsson came from 16th to finish seventh. Paired with Dixon’s fifth place finish, Ganasssi ahs put two cars in the top 10 in both races.

While the youngsters have had fun these past two weekends, the ovals is where the veterans take over. Ovals are a veterans’ game.

Notes

The crowd seemed bigger than the 20,000 limit.

The social distance seating plan was not adhered to. In Grandstand 10,several rows were completely filled an consecutive rows had fans in them. None of the stand attendants monitored the situation. I hope IMS will have stricter policies about the grandstands in May.

It was nice to be back at the St. Pete Grand Prix. This the first event I have been to since 2019 that had more of a normal feel to it.

Thanks to everyone who followed along this weekend.

Race Day

Photo: Chris Owens Indycar

Good morning and welcome to Race Day at St Petersburg. I think this will be a very competitive race. The top three starters, Colton Herta, Jack Harvey, and Josef Newgarden are the favorites I would not count out Sebastien Bourdais or Pato O’Ward either.

Look for a two stop race if there aren’t too many yellows.

i hope to provide an update after the warmup at 9:05.

Driver introductions begin at noon. Green flag is scheduled for 12:42. Coverage is on NBC.

From last night:

Herta Grabs Pole as Team Penske Falters

https://thefirstfiftyracesarethehardest.wordpress.com/2021/04/24/herta-grabs-pole-as-team-penske-falters-some-thoughts/

Qualifying results:

Quick Thoughts- Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

I am officially old. I saw Bryan Jetta win races as an adult and have now seen his son win races.

Colton Herta put on a master driving clinic today., He led all but three laps and pulled away from Josef Newgarden on two late restarts.

Herta has tied his father Bryan on the career victory list with his fourth win today. He will pass his dad later this season.

The tire choices to start the 4ace made for some interesting tactic. The field was split evenly between primary and alternates. Hearts said after the race he didn’t notice much difference.

Still waiting for Alexander Rossi to have a decent weekend. Rossi expected to fight for the title but is mired in 16th place after two frustrating weekends.

While their finishes at Barber may hurt their championship chances a bit, both Herta and Newgarden did what they needed to do to get back in the hunt.

Pato O’Ward struggled in the morning warmup and was never a factor in the race. Fortunately, it is still early in the season, but he needs good results at Texas next weekend.

Will Power and Scott Dixon have shown early season consistency. Dixon is the only driver with two Top 5s. Power is one of three drivers with two Top 10s. Dixon and Power are tied for second, two points behind Palou. Palou’s lead is two because he led two laps today.

Sebastien Bourdais has brought the Foyt car home in the top 10 the past three races, going back to the 2020 season finale. It was a bit of a tough day, but if they can have a decent showing on the ovals, atop 10 points finish is possible.

Despite Herta being way out front most of the day, there was some great action back in the pack, Takuma Sato moved up nine spots from where hje started, and Power improved 12 positions.

Turn one was a festival of cars banging together. Only a few times did the collisions affect someone’s race. James Hinchcliffe was hit hard by Sato and fell back.

Chip Ganassi Racing is more than Dixon in 2021. Last Week Alex Palou won the race. Today Marcus Ericsson came from 16th to finish seventh. Paired with Dixon’s fifth place finish, Ganasssi ahs put two cars in the top 10 in both races.

While the youngsters have had fun these past two weekends, the ovals is where the veterans take over. Ovals are a veterans’ game.

Notes

The crowd seemed bigger than the 20,000 limit.

The social distance seating plan was not adhered to. In Grandstand 10,several rows were completely filled an consecutive rows had fans in them. None of the stand attendants monitored the situation. I hope IMS will have stricter policies about the grandstands in May.

It was nice to be back at the St. Pete Grand Prix. This the first event I have been to since 2019 that had more of a normal feel to it.

Thanks to everyone who followed along this weekend.

Newgarden Fastest in Friday Practice

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Things are back to normal at St. Pete. Josef newgarden and team Penske teammate Will Power ended the lone Friday practice 1-2 on the speed chart. Newgarden’s time of 1:00.8029 was 0.083 seconds faster than Power. Colton Herta was third quick. The top five were within 0.0963 seconds of Newgarden.

The session was red flagged with just a couple minutes to go when Sebastien Bourdais spun. Cars returned to the track with just seconds left, but no one had time to get another completed lap.

Discussing today’s track conditions and the closeness of the times, Newgarden said that the track was “really high grip today.” He believed that the high grip contributed to the close speeds among the top five.

The Day

The crowd got bigger as the day went on. I’m not sure that it reached the 20,000 capacity, but a decent number of people were there. Mask wearing, which was good at first, diminished as more people came.

I didn’t care for waiting until 4:15 for the first appearance by Indycar today. I understand why a practice needed to be cut from the schedule, but an earlier time for your featured series would be better.

Two liveries I really liked- Simon Pagenaud’s Australian Gold.

Indycar photo by Chris Owens

And Alec Palou’s NTT Data. I love the number in a circle.

Indyvar photo by Chris Owens

Notes- Dalton Keller seemed to be having an engine issue. His car sounded very rough entering turn 1.

It was interesting watching Romain Grosjean try different lines through the first turn.

Tomorrow Indycar has practice at 9:45 a6 qualifying at 1:45. Both sessions are live on Peacock. The qualifying will re air on NBCSN at 10 pm Eastern.

St. Pete Day 1

Good late morning from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The weather is perfect for racing. The organizers have done a great job putting protocols in place. I talked to a volunteer who told me having the race last October helped the get ready for this race. Their preparations show.

Today is tbe start of one of the fewthre day Indycar weekends. The crowd is smaller than the normal Friday crowd at St. Pete. It seems a higher percentage of fans are complying with the mask require than what I observed last weekend at Barber?

USF 2000 qualifying starts at 12:15 followed by Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights qualifying. USF2000 and Indy Lights also qualify for Race 2 later today.

Indycar takes to the track at 4:15 this afternoon. More later.

St. Pete Preview

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.

Newgarden Rebound

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.

I

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.

Rookie Challenges

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

Rosenqvist

Can Foyt keep it going

AMSP- learn from strategy error?