IZOD IndyCar Series - Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Preview

From The Sports Network

DATE: Sunday, March 27th
SITE: Streets of St. Petersburg (2005) -- St. Petersburg, Florida
TRACK: 1.806-miles - 2,413 feet (Frontstretch); 1,940 feet (Backstretch)
CAPACITY: 25,000
ANNOUNCERS: Marty Reid, Scott Goodyear, Eddie Cheever
RADIO: IMS Radio Network
START TIME: 12:30 p.m. (et)
RUNNER-UP: Justin Wilson
POLE WINNER: Will Power (Finished 1st)
LAPS: 100
MILES: 180.60
QUALIFYING RECORD: Will Power, 2010 (105.190 m.p.h.)
RACE RECORD: Helio Castroneves, 2006 (92.340 m.p.h.)
2010 Finish
1Will Power16Alex Tagliani8
2Justin Wilson47Danica Patrick21
3Ryan Briscoe198Raphael Matos23
4Helio Castroneves59Graham Rahal16
5Dario Franchitti1310Tony Kanaan2
2010 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Facts and Figures
AVERAGE SPEED: 84.975 m.p.h.
TIME OF RACE: 2 hours, 7 minutes, 5.7968 seconds
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.8244 second
CAUTION FLAGS: 5 for 23 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 10 among 8 drivers
POLE WINNER: Will Power (105.190 m.p.h.)
FASTEST LAP: E.J. Viso, 101.471 m.p.h., Lap 80
Past Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Winners (Starting Position) Car -- Speed
2010 -- Will Power (1st) -- Dallara Honda -- 84.975 m.p.h.
2009 -- Ryan Briscoe (4th) -- Dallara-Honda -- 81.542 m.p.h.
2008 -- Graham Rahal (9th) -- Dallara-Honda -- 74.251 m.p.h.
2007 -- Helio Castroneves (1st) -- Dallara-Honda -- 89.166 m.p.h.
2006 -- Helio Castroneves (5th) -- Dallara-Honda -- 92.340 m.p.h. (record)
2005 -- Dan Wheldon (9th) -- Dallara-Honda -- 83.140 m.p.h.
Past Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Pole Winners (Finish)
2010 -- Will Power -- 1st
2009 -- Graham Rahal -- 7th
2008 -- Tony Kanaan -- 3rd
2007 -- Helio Castroneves -- 1st
2006 -- Dario Franchitti -- 19th
2005 -- Bryan Herta -- 4th
Last Race Results
RACE: Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 (October 2, 2010)
SITE: Homestead-Miami Speedway -- Sao Paulo, Brazil
MILES: 300
LAPS: 200
WINNER: Scott Dixon
RUNNER-UP: Danica Patrick
THIRD: Tony Kanaan
FOURTH: Ryan Briscoe
FIFTH: Helio Castroneves
POLE WINNER: Dario Franchitti (Finished 8th)
TIME OF RACE: 1 hour, 52 minutes, 8.5580 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 158.905 m.p.h.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 2.7587 seconds
CAUTION FLAGS: 5 for 39 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 18 among 7 drivers
LAP LEADERS: Dario Franchitti 1-42; Ryan Briscoe 43; Franchitti 44-52; Briscoe
53; Franchitti 54-55; Briscoe 56; Franchitti 57; Briscoe 58-61;
Scott Dixon 62-68; Tony Kanaan 69-72; Franchitti 73-95; Dixon
96-97; Alex Tagliani 98-100; Franchitti 101-151; Dixon 152-157;
Marco Andretti 158-167; Dixon 168-172; Helio Castroneves 173;
Dixon 174-200.
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Entry List
CarDriver, HometownCar/Name
02Oriol Servia (Pals, Spain)Newman-Haas Racing
3Helio Castroneves (Sao Paulo, Brz)Guidepoint systems/Team Penske
4J.R. Hildebrand (Sausalito, CA)U.S. National Guard/Panther Racing
5Takuma Sato (Tokyo, Japan)KV Racing Technology-Lotus
6Ryan Briscoe (Sydney, Australia)IZOD/PPG/Team Penske
7Danica Patrick (Roscoe, IL)GoDaddy.com/Andretti Autosport
9Scott Dixon (Auckland, New Zealand)Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
10Dario Franchitti (Edinburgh,Scotland)Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
12 *Will Power (Toowoomba, Australia)Verizon Wireless/Team Penske
14Vitor Meira (Brasilia, Brazil)ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Enterprises
17Raphael Matos (Brazil)Automatic Fire Sprinklers/AFS Racing
18Jamie Jakes (Leeds, England)Acorn Stairlifts/Dale Coyne Racing
19Sebastien Bourdais (Le Mans, France)Boy Scouts of America/Dale Coyne Rac
22Justin Wilson (Sheffield, England)Z-Line Designs/Dreyer&ReinboldRacing
24Ana Beatriz (Sao Paulo, Brazil)Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
26Marco Andretti (Nazareth, PA)Venom Energy/Andretti Autosport
27Mike Conway (Bromley, England)GoDaddy.com/Andretti Autosport
28Ryan Hunter-Reay (Boca Raton, FL)DHL/Sun Drop/Andretti Autosport
36Sebastian Saavedra (Bogota,Colombia)Conquest Racing
38Graham Rahal (New Albany, OH)Service Central/Chip Ganassi Racing
59E.J. Viso (Caracas, Venezuela)Lotus Cars/PDVSA/KVRT-Lotus
77Alex Tagliani (Lachenaie, Canada)Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motor.
78Simona de Silvestro (Thun, Switzer.)Nuclear Clean Air Energy/HVM Racing
82Tony Kanaan (Salvador, Brazil)GEICO/KV Racing Technology-Lotus
83Charlie Kimball (Camarillo, CA)Novo Nordisk/Chip Ganassi Racing
* - defending champion.
Leading Contenders (Finish the last six years)
Will Power---------8th6thWon
Justin Wilson---------9th3rd2nd
Ryan Briscoe14th------23rdWon3rd
Helio Castroneves20thWonWon2nd---4th
Dario Franchitti3rd19th5th---4th5th
Alex Tagliani------------10th6th
Danica Patrick12th6th8th10th19th7th
Graham Rahal---------Won7th9th
Tony Kanaan2nd3rd3rd3rd5th10th
Ryan Hunter-Reay------17th---2nd11th
Marco Andretti---15th4th25th13th12th
Scott Dixon6th2nd2nd22nd16th18th
Mover of the Week
Vitor Meira - Started 21st on the grid and finished 6th
Sports Network Selections
Pick to Win - Helio Castroneves
Darkhorse - Takuma Sato
Last Week's Pick to Win (October 2 - Dario Franchitti) - Finished 8th
Last Week's Darkhorse (October 2 - Tony Kanaan) - Finished 3rd
After a five-and-a-half-month break, the IZOD IndyCar Series begins its new season on Sunday in St. Petersburg. Dario Franchitti will start his bid for a record fourth championship in the series, but his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, as well as Team Penske drivers Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe will once again be Franchitti's toughest competition.

There will be plenty of changes this season, including a new rules package. The schedule will feature a new venue and the return of several tracks.

The battle for the championship has come down to the last lap in the season- finale the past five years, so don't be surprised if that's the case again on October 16 when the series runs in Las Vegas.

Last season, Will Power started first and ended first, as he captured the checkered flag for the first time in St. Pete. Power, who had won the 2010 season-opener two weeks prior in Brazil, put on a dominating performance in the second-half of the 100-lap event on the St. Petersburg street circuit. The Team Penske driver took the lead for the final time when he passed E.J. Viso after Viso suffered a gear box issue with 23 laps remaining.

With the win, Power became the first driver to win the first two IndyCar races of the season since Sam Hornish Jr. accomplished the feat in 2001. Hornish won his first of three series titles that year.

Power finished second to Franchitti on the points list last year, despite recording five wins and 13 top-10s in 17 starts.

Ryan Briscoe passed Justin Wilson with 13 laps remaining and never looked back en route to capturing the inaugural race of the 2009 IndyCar Series on the streets of St. Petersburg. The No. 6 Team Penske driver crossed the finish line 0.4619 of a second ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay for his third career IndyCar title.

2009 marked the first time in the history of the series that the opening race had been held on a street course. It was also the first time that the inaugural race of the season was on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Not only did Graham Rahal become the youngest driver to win an IndyCar event, he also captured the 2008 race in his first start in the Series. At the age of 19, Rahal crossed the finish line 3.5192 seconds ahead of two-time defending champion Helio Castroneves. The key to winning the race was the decision by his pit crew to stay out on lap 56 when everyone else pitted for fuel. Rahal got around Ryan Hunter Reay (the only other car to stay out) on lap 65 and had enough fuel to make it to the checkered flag. With the win, he also is the first driver since Scott Dixon, to go to victory lane in his very first IRL start.

In 2007, Helio Castroneves captured this race for the second consecutive year, as he edged Scott Dixon by less than a second for his 12th career IndyCar title. Dixon, who finished runner-up for the second straight season, lost by 0.6007 of a second. The win by Castroneves was his only victory in 2007. His win total now stands at 19.

Castroneves crossed the finish line ahead of Dixon while under caution for his then eighth career IndyCar title in 2006 and first of that season. Pole sitter Dario Franchitti failed to finish the race due to wheel bearing issues and finished last after leading the first 14 laps. Castroneves battled Dixon down the stretch, recapturing the lead on lap 96 of the 100-lap race. Just one lap later, Tomas Scheckter and Buddy Rice collided and the caution came out, however the crash was too much to clean up in time and Castroneves took the checkered flag.

The streets of St. Petersburg have hosted open-wheel racing since 2003 and has made a seamless transition from Champ Car to IndyCar Series event, beginning in 2005. Much like temporary courses in Cleveland and Edmonton, St. Petersburg uses portions of an airport for its race surface, as the runways at Albert Whitted Airport provide high-speed entries into tight passing opportunities in the Firestone Curve at Turn 1. Unlike Cleveland and Edmonton, St. Pete actually uses public street courses for the track as well as the 1.806-mile course meanders along the Bayfront and near Progress Energy Park, the home of the North American Soccer League's FC Tampa Bay.

Starting in the ninth position in 2005, Dan Wheldon trailed throughout the race and briefly held the lead for lap 62 of the 100-lap event. Pole sitter Bryan Herta, led for 39 laps, including the opening 16 and Ryan Briscoe, who led a race-high 43 laps, held the top spot on laps 80-91. Wheldon took control on lap 92 and held on the rest of the way, as he edged Tony Kanaan by less than two seconds to capture the inaugural race. Herta finished fourth while Briscoe placed 14th after suffering an accident on lap 91. Twelve of the 21 cars were still running at the end of the race with eight on the lead lap.

The winner at St. Petersburg has gone on to win the championship once in the six years of the event (Wheldon, 2005).

The IZOD IndyCar Series moves on to Birmingham, AL for the April 10th Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Helio Castroneves won last year's inaugural race there.

03/25 14:45:09 ET

As of March 25, 2011, at 02:45 PM ET
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