St. Pete Schedule, Ticket Update

According to the GPStPete website, only General Admission tickets remain for Sunday. Saturday grandstand seats are available in socially distanced blocks. the entire block must be purchased. GA is available. Friday is General Admission. Three day grandstand ticket holders have first rights to their grandstand seats on Friday

The event schedule:

Schedule subject to change without notice
All times Eastern Time

Friday


Time
SeriesSession
7:45 AM – 6:00 PM Gate Hours
8:00 AM – 8:40 AMMX-5 CupPractice 1
8:55 AM – 9:25 AMUSF2000Practice 1
9:40 AM – 10:10 AMIndy Pro 2000Practice 1
10:25 AM – 11:05 AMIndy LightsPractice 1
11:20 AM – 12:00 PMMX-5 CupPractice 2
12:15 PM – 12:35 PMUSF2000Qualifying 1
12:50 PM – 1:10 PMIndy Pro 2000Qualifying 1
1:25 PM – 1:55 PMIndy LightsQualifying 1
2:10 PM – 2:40 PMStadium SUPER TrucksPractice/Qualifying
2:55 PM – 3:15 PMMX-5 CupQualifying
3:30 PM – 3:50 PMUSF2000Qualifying 2
4:15 PM – 5:00 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESPractice 1-Peacock
5:25 PM – 5:55 PMIndy LightsQualifying 2

Saturday

TimeSeriesSession
7:45 AM – 6:00 PM Gate Hours
8:00 AM – 8:20 AMIndy Pro 2000Qualifying 2
8:35 AM – 9:20 AMMX-5 CupRace 1
9:45 AM – 10:30 AMNTT INDYCAR SERIESPractice 2- Peacock
10:55 AM – 11:35 AMUSF2000Race 1
11:50 AM – 12:35 PMIndy Pro 2000Race 1
12:50 PM – 1:20 PMStadium SUPER TrucksRace 1
1:45 PM – 3:00 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESQualifying- Peacock
3:20 PM – 4:05 PMIndy LightsRace 1 Peacock
4:20 PM – 5:05 PMMX-5 CupRace 2
5:20 PM – 6:00 PMUSF2000Race 2

Sunday

TimeSeriesSession
7:45 AM – 4:00 PM Gate Hours
8:00 AM – 8:40 AMIndy Pro 2000Race 2
9:05 AM – 9:35 AMNTT INDYCAR SERIESWarm-Up- Peacock
10:00 AM – 10:50 AMIndy LightsRace 2 Peacock
11:05 AM – 11:35 PMStadium SUPER TrucksRace 2
12:00 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESDriver Introductions
12:42 PMNTT INDYCAR SERIESGreen Flag NBC

Pre race show begins at noon on NBC Sunday.

NBCSN lists a delayed Practice show at 10 pm ET Saturday. I assume they mean qualifying, but I will try to get clarification.

It’s Race Day!

Photo: Pato O’Ward goes for his first career victory today. Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Today’s schedule All Times Central

7:00am – 3:00pm: Will Call (Hampton Inn | 310 Rex Lake Rd, Leeds, AL 35094)

7:30am: Gates Open

8:00am – 5:00pm: Surgere Fan Zone / Hagerty Car Corral

9:15am – 10:05am: Indy Pro 2000 Race #2

10:30am – 11:00am: NTT INDYCAR SERIES Warm-up

11:25am – 12:05pm: Porsche Sprint Challenge Race #2

12:20pm – 1:20pm: Indy Lights Race #2

2:42pm: NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race (90 laps)

NBC coverage begins at 3pm EDT.

The Indycar season finally gets underway this afternoon when the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama takes the green flag. I am assuming the power issues have been resolved and that things will run on time. It should be an interesting race. Two ittle contenders, Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi, start on the front row. Two other favorites for the series championship, Josef Newgarden and Colton Herta, line up eighth and ninth respectively.

Tire strategy will be key today. How long will the red tires last? I expect a couple of caution periods today. The timing of those will also figure into the tire choices.

Rossi has had success starting in front. He usually wins when he is on pole or starts second. Turn one is going to be interesting. Enjoy the race. I think it will be a good one.

Notes

Saturday’s crowd was significantly larger than Friday’s, but still smaller than a normal qualifying day crowd.

The Fan Zone had more vendors and interactive booths yesterday.

Today is expected to be at capacity. All 20,000 available tickets are spoken for.

Another really good qualifying effort yesterday- Conor Daly in the Ed Carpenter Racing number 20 will start 10th.

Thoughts on Sebring: Broken Wing Victory in a Race of Bumper Cars

I have a dream that one day in an IMSA race the entire DPi class will fall out and the overall winner will be an LMP2 or GTLM car. Last night my dream nearly came true. The DPi cars seem to have a way of making things difficult for themselves, whether it’s squeezing each other into barriers, penalties for excessive drive time, pit mistakes, or on track collisions, the top class always entertains.

The result was unlikely winner, the number 5 Mustang sampling DPi Cadillac driven by Sebastien BGourdais, Loic Duval, and Tristan Vautier. Bourdais drove the anchor leg and led the final hour and 10 minutes. The car finished the race with a broken rear wing to edge out the Mazda of Harry Tincknell.

It was an improbable win for a team that had struggled to find speed all weekend, but the car and the race came to them, with an assist from the rest of the class.

Notes

Porsche swept the GT categories with victories in GTLM and GTD. The GTLm win by the 79 resembled the follies of DPi, with a late collision of the BMW and Corvette allowing Matheiu Jaminet to grab the lead from what appeared to be a third place finish.

The GTLM winner Pfaff Motorsports benefitted from the expertise of Laurens Vanthoor, who piloted the Canadian team to the win.

A good run by Simon Pagenaud in the 48 DPi topped a difficult day for the team. Jimmie Johnson spun and made contact with another car in the foirst hour of the race. The team climbed back into contention later in the day, Pagenaud stayed in the cat 50 seconds too long, disqualifying the car, which was third on the track at the end. I don’t understand why IMSA allows a car to keep running after it is known that car will be disqualified.

Katherine Legge had a great run in the 88 Hardpoint car. She was in line for a podium until a penalty for contact dropped her to 5th in class. The team, co-driven by Christina Neilsen and Bia Figuerado, still had a good run in just their second outing.

I understand IMSA’s desire to have as many cars in a race as possible, but when GTLM cars are faster than LMP3’s, it’s a bit concerning.

I hope but I doubt that NBC is over their Jimmie Johnson love fest. I admire him that after his success in NASCAR that he is trying a completely different motorsports discipline, but NBC’s coverage of him is overkill. The nice thing about Indycar is that he will be in the car the entire race and unavailable for interviews during the races.

The final results from the IMSA website:

POSST POSCAR NOCLASSCLASS POSDRIVERSTEAM/CAR/SPONSORNO LAPSFASTEST LAPSTATUS
1651Loic DuvalSebastien BourdaisTristan VautierMustang Sampling / JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac DPi34901:46.679Running
24552Oliver JarvisHarry TincknellJonathan BomaritoMazda Motorsports Mazda DPi34901:46.841Running
35603Olivier PlaJuanPablo MontoyaDane CameronMeyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian Acura DPi34901:46.641Running
42104Alexander RossiRicky TaylorFilipe AlbuquerqueKonica Minolta Acura ARX-05 Acura DPi34901:46.654Running
53015Rengervander ZandeKevin MagnussenScott DixonCadillac DPi34701:46.151Running
69521Scott HuffakerBen KeatingMikkel JensenPR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 0734401:48.474Running
710182Ryan DalzielDwight MerrimanKyle TilleyEra Motorsport ORECA LMP2 0734401:48.944Running
824791Matt CampbellCooper MacNeilMathieu JaminetWeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR – 1933401:55.732Running
922252ConnorDe PhillippiPhilipp EngBruno SpenglerBMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE33301:55.727Running
1023243Augusto FarfusJohn EdwardsJesse KrohnBMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE33301:55.861Running
112034Antonio GarciaJordan TaylorNicky CatsburgCorvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R33301:55.642Running
122145Tommy MilnerNick TandyAlexander SimsCorvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R33001:57.236Running
1316541Colin BraunJonathan BennettGeorge KurtzCore Autosport Ligier JS P32032901:56.166Running
1417912Dylan MurryJeroen BleekemolenJim CoxRiley Motorsports Ligier JS P32032901:56.281Running
1515743Scott AndrewsGar RobinsonSpencer PigotRiley Motorsports Ligier JS P32032901:56.183Running
161474Oliver AskewAustin McCuskerStevan McAleerForty7 Motorsports Duqueine D0832801:56.589Running
1718335Joao BarbosaYann ClairayLance WillseySean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P32032801:56.340Running
183691Laurens VanthoorLars KernZacharie RobichonPfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R32002:00.835Running
1925162Patrick LongTrent HindmanJan HeylenWright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R32002:00.808Running
2032233Ross GunnIan JamesRomanDe AngelisHeart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT332002:01.402Running
2135444Spencer PumpellyJohn PotterAndy LallyAcura NSX GT332002:01.923Running
2233885Katherine LeggeBia FigueiredoChristina NielsenPorsche 911 GT3R32002:01.484Running
2328126Zach VeachRobert MegennisFrankie MontecalvoVasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT331902:01.450Running
2427147Jack HawksworthKyle KirkwoodAaron TelitzVasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT331302:01.000Running
2529968Bill AuberlenRobby FoleyAidan ReadTurner Motorsport BMW M6 GT331302:01.298Running
2631759Maro EngelMikael GrenierKenny HabulSunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT330402:01.125Running
271316Felipe NasrMike ConwayPipo DeraniWhelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi29201:46.151Running
287487Kamui KobayashiSimon PagenaudJimmie JohnsonCadillac DPi34901:46.424Running
29349910Earl BamberTrenton EstepRob FerriolPorsche 911 GT3R28002:01.325Running
301283Gabriel AubryTim BuretJohn FaranoORECA LMP2 0726601:49.084Running
31196Matthew BellRodrigo SalesNiklas KruettenWIN Autosport Duqueine D0826501:57.106Running
3230111Bryan SellersMadison SnowCorey LewisPaul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT325502:01.353Running
3313387Rasmus LindhDan GoldburgMateo LLarenaPerformance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P32017701:56.981Running
34262812Michaelde QuesadaBilly JohnsonDaniel MoradAlegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT39102:01.960Running
35371913Tim ZimmermannStephen SimpsonFranck PereraGRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT39102:01.501Running
368114Thomas MerrillSteven ThomasTristan NunezWIN Autosport ORECA LMP2 079001:49.619Running
3711225Guy SmithJames McGuireWayne BoydORECA LMP2 0733301:48.673Running

9 Indycar Races on NBC

NBC Sports today made their Indycar broadcast schedule ,official. A record nine races will be on NBC, including six of the first eight races. The NBC portion begins at the season opener at Barber Motorsports Park and continues the following weekend. The season finale at Long Beach is slated for NBCSN.

My NBC coverage for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins at 11 am Eastern. I assume the race will begin at 12:30 or a little bit later.

Eight broadcasts begin at noon Eastern.

I would prefer the double header at Detroit be moved to NBCSN and Road America and Long Beach replace those two races on NBC. Once again, Roger didn’t return my call.

I’m sure the network is as proud as a Peacock about this schedule.

Here is the schedule with broadcast times:

DateRace/TrackNetworkTime (ET)
Sun., April 18Barber Motorsports ParkNBC3 p.m.
Sun., April 25Streets of St. PetersburgNBC12 p.m.
Sat., May 1Texas Motor Speedway – Race 1NBCSN7 p.m.
Sun., May 2Texas Motor Speedway – Race 2NBCSN5 p.m.
Sat., May 15Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course)NBC2:30 p.m.
Sun., May 30The 105th Indianapolis 500NBC11 a.m.
Sat., June 12Raceway at Belle Isle Park/Detroit – Race 1NBC2 p.m.
Sun., June 13Raceway at Belle Isle Park/Detroit – Race 2NBC12 p.m.
Sun., June 20Road AmericaNBCSN12 p.m.
Sun., July 4Mid-Ohio Sports Car CourseNBC12 p.m.
Sun., July 11Streets of TorontoNBCSN12 p.m.
Sun., Aug. 8Streets of NashvilleNBCSN5:30 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 14Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course)NBCSN12:30 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 21World Wide Technology RacewayNBCSN8 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 12Portland International RacewayNBC3 p.m.
Sun, Sept. 19WeatherTech Raceway Laguna SecaNBC3 p.m.
Sun, Sept. 26Streets of Long BeachNBCSN3 p.m.

Note: dates and networks are subject to change

Some Thoughts on the Rolex 24

Photo: Nigel Cook/News-Journal

It was an all star race and it lived up to tis billing. This was a very good 24 hour race. It seemed as if every class had battles going on, several for the entire race. 807 laps completed with 10 caution periods is a substatntial lap count.

Want to win the Rolex 24? Join Wayne Taylor Racing. Yesterday’s win was the team’s third straight and fourth in five years. Taylor switched from Cadillac to Acura, hired a new pair of drivers, and still won.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s return to IMSA fell seven minutes short. The Cadillac was strong the entire race and had little problem charging to the front after pit stops and a drive through penalty. A cut tire with seven minutes left derailed the whole race for the team. They finished fifth.

Spencer Pigot and Oliver Askew had to get a lot of satisfaction winning the LMP3 class. Both drivers lost their Indycar rides in 2020. I hope their victory enhances their opportunity for an Indianapolis 500 entry.

Disappointed for Rinus Veekay. The Dragonspeed entry dropped out of the race after just 53 laps. He didn’t even get in the car.

Zach Veach’s bid for a good showing did not go well. His GTD Lexus had a host of issues and finished 13th in class, 64 laps behind the class winner.

One of the best stories of the was the GTD winner.Winward Racing, is a new entry stepping up from the Michelin Pilot series . A tremendous effort to come into the class with the biggest car count and several long time teams and win.

It is sad to see the end of the GTLM class. The Rolex 24 probably marked the highest number of entries for the soon to be extinct group. The Corvettes are the only full time entries. Their 1-2 finish in the class is a hollow victory. This class usually is the most fun to watch at the Rolex with close racing in cars fans can identify with. I understand that economics probably forced the decision, but I will miss this group.

Indycar Drivers Have Mixed Results

Alexander rossi and Helio Castroneves drove for the winning Wayne Taylor Racing Acura. Castroneves follows his 2020 IMSA championship with his first win at the Rolex24.

Rossi and Castroneves become the 14th and 15th Indianapolis 500 winners to also win the Rolex24.

Other Indycar drivers results:

Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson (Ganassi DPi) 5th overall

Sebastien Bourdais (JDC Miller DPi) 7th in class

Simon Pagenaud, Jimmie Johnson (Action Express DPi) 2nd overall

Juan Pablo Monoya (Shank DPi) 4th overall

J. R. Hildebrand (Audi GTD) 15th in class

Colton Herta (BMW GTD) 6th in class

NBC Coverage- Meh

I hope race coverage on NBC doesn’t indicate the kind of coverage we can expect for Indycar this season. I thought it was not their best effort.

There were lots of interviews with Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott. To be fair, Indycar drivers were interviewed as well, but Johnson and Elliott got more screen time than all the Indycar drivers combined. I respect what Jimmie Johnson is doing after a successful NASCAR career, taking a huge leap to Indycar and sports cars, but the coverage of him was excessive. Even after the race, he was the only runner-up driver who got an interview.

I felt the extensive focus on him slighted the full time drivers in the series, who work hard for probably little reward.

I understand that the prototypes are the big stars, but a little more time could have been spent covering the other classes. There was a great story with the winners of GTD which got only passing mentions.

Peacock Replaces NBC Gold

Photo: Indycar

Well, that didn’t take long. Fans who purchased NBC Gold received an email today regarding the switch to Peacock. Indycar sent the follow release regarding the change.

From Indycar:

NBC, NBCSN To Broadcast All 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series Races

Peacock Premium becomes the new streaming home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES coverage beginning with the 2021 season. NBC Sports’ exclusive streaming coverage will move from NBC Sports Gold’s “IndyCar Pass,” to Peacock Premium, which is available for $4.99 per month.

Peacock Premium will provide fans in the U.S. with live coverage of 2021 INDYCAR qualifying and practice sessions as well as coverage surrounding the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, Indy Lights races, race day warmups and full-event replays of INDYCAR races in 2021. Peacock Premium will surround the 105th Indianapolis 500 with exclusive practice and qualifying coverage, as well as ancillary content.

“Peacock Premium will offer NTT INDYCAR SERIES fans in-demand track action at tremendous value,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles. “Alongside NBC Sports, we’re providing comprehensive coverage of practice and qualifications throughout our season, while also connecting to a larger platform with a world-class roster of programming.”

INDYCAR on Peacock Premium will also feature INDYCAR archival and library content, and other motorsports shoulder programming.

As previously announced, all 2021 INDYCAR races, along with select additional race weekend sessions, will be broadcast on either NBC or NBCSN.

The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season starts Sunday, April 18 with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

INDYCAR will join a robust library of live sports on Peacock Premium. Highlights of Peacock Premium’s live sports offerings include Premier League, a Sunday NFL Wild Card playoff game, U.S. Open golf, U.S. Women’s Open golf, and upcoming Olympics and Paralympics coverage, plus the Peacock Originals “Lost Speedways,” hosted by Dale Earnhardt Jr., and “In Deep with Ryan Lochte.”

Viewers can sign up for Peacock at peacocktv.com. Peacock is currently available on the Roku platform; Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices including Android™, Android TV™ devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices; Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; Sony PlayStation4 and PlayStation 4 Pro; and VIZIO SmartCast™ TVs and LG Smart TVs. Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, as well as eligible Cox Contour customers, enjoy Peacock Premium included with their service at no additional cost.

Indycar Announcement of Schedule Change for Barber

Indycar’s official announcement.

INDYCAR Announces Update
for 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Opener
Series to raise curtain on new season April 18 on NBCINDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Jan. 22, 2021) – INDYCAR officials have announced the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener at Barber Motorsports Park has been rescheduled from Sunday, April 11 to Sunday, April 18. The move results in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst being featured on NBC network television. A record nine events will air on NBC this season. It’s the first time the 2.38-mile road course will host the opener for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. A return to the popular Birmingham, Alabama, racecourse leads an opening stretch of four races in 15 days with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (April 25) and a doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway (May 1-2) to follow. NBC will air the first two races of the new season and six of the first eight from April to June. “The schedule changes we’ve had, while partially prompted by ongoing pandemic conditions, give us a powerful start to the 2021 season,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “With six of our first eight races on network television and all in a more compact timeline, it’s an enormous opportunity to drive even more momentum as we deliver our exciting brand of racing to our fans.” Barber Motorsports Park became an instant hit among INDYCAR drivers when the series first tested on the fast and undulating circuit in 2007. A fan favorite, as well, this year marks the 11th time the series will race there, a tradition that started in 2010. Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden is the winningest driver at Barber, with three wins. Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato is the most recent winner. “Zoom Motorsports and Barber Motorsports Park jumped at the opportunity to have our event showcased on NBC network television” said Gene Hallman, CEO of Zoom Motorsports. “We are proud of the tremendous support that INDYCAR receives annually here in the heart of the deep south. The facility and museum are world class, and we look forward to highlighting George Barber’s vision in what has become a bucket list destination for all race fans.” An updated listing of green flag times for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule will be announced at a later date.
The updated schedule for those of you playing at home:

Quick Thoughts (After a Deep Breath)-Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

The Race

If Indycar wants to make St. Pete the season finale, I’m fine with that.The venue produced the finale drama that is missing from long road courses. Mistakes on a street course are costly.

I hope this race shows Indycar that double points are unnecessary for the finale.

What a great drive by Josef Newgarden, capped by an amazing pass for the lead. His win was a normal ending to a race which typified how the year 2020 has gone overall.

Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

It was great fun watching Newgarden and Scott Dixon both doing exactly what they needed to do to have a shot at winning the title. I hope we can see this championship rivalry for a few more years.

This race had everything- leaders crashing, yellows playing with strategy, some rain, the pace car running out of fuel, the title intrigue, and the Andretti Autosport drama on both ends of the grid.

 I have never seen a team that had a complete vise-grip on a weekend destruct as quickly as Andretti Autosport did today. The team had seemed to have figured out what was ailing them early in the season the last few races and were in line for a podium sweep at one point.

With Marco Andretti not qualifying for the Leaders’ Circle, you have to wonder if we see the 98 next year.

I hope Alexander Rossi uses all of this year’s frustrations to have a monster season in 2021. Today had to be particularly heartbreaking to be on the verge of salvaging something from this year and have it go away so fast.

I think James Hinchcliffe did enough this weekend to be the prime candidate for the 26 car next year.

A couple more laps of yellow and Alex Palou might have been able to get to the end of the race. I hope he will be back next year. I really like the way he drives.

Sebastien Bourdais appears to already be helping A. J. Foyt Racing. He was in the top 10 all weekend. After getting shuffled back on pit stops and with the aid of the cautions, he worked his way up to fourth at the end. Foyt placed both cars in the top 10 with Charlie Kimball finishing eighth.

Pato O’Ward didn’t win a race this year, but I will be shocked if he doesn’t win one in 2021. Arrow McLaren SP had a competitive season. Another nice drive today for his second runner-up finish of the year.

Congratulations to Rinus VeeKay, Indycar rookie of the Year. I’m glad that he will get another year at ECR to continue to grow as a driver.

I appreciate NBC going overtime with thier coverage to allow for an interview with Dixon.

The Title

Josef Newgarden (R) congratulates Scott Dixon on winning the Indycar series title. phot from NBC on Twitter

Scott Dixon has firmly placed himself on the same plane as Foyt and Mario Andretti. He now has six championships to go along with 50 career victories. I expect him to tie Foyt with seven titles and to end up with close to 60 race wins before he is done. I have been privileged to see both Foyt and Dixon race. While they drove in different eras, each had superior talent to their peers. I may not have appreciated Foyt at the time he drove for all his accomplishments, but his career has given me the perspective and context to appreciate Dixon while he is still active.

The last four series titles-

2017- Newgarden

2018-  Dixon

2019- Newgarden

2020- Dixon

We should have maybe three more years of this rivalry.

Dixon and Newgarden completed every lap this season. It is extremely rare that one driver accomplishes this feat in a season. It is obvious why they were the title contenders and that there was only a 16 point difference at the end.

I will be back on Tuesday with my season review, which may be divided into two parts. Thanks for follow along this weekend and all season. I appreciate you so much.