Preview: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
After a thrilling end to the 2015 season, the IndyCar drivers such as Scott Dixon and last year’s winner, Juan Pablo Montoya are eager to get back behind the wheel to start the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series in downtown St. Petersburg from March 11-13.
While the IndyCar Series is the most prominent race, there are five other races that will take place during the three day event.There will be three junior series races on the Indy racing ladder – the Indy Lights, the Pro Mazda Championships, and the Cooper Tires USF 2000 Championships – will also be running. Additionally there will be Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck series and the Pirelli World Challenge Championships will be at the Grand Prix and will have three class races for GT, GTS, and Touring Car.
Each of the different races follow a 1.8-mile course that consists of 14 turns and mostly stays along the waterfront streets of downtown St. Petersburg. Drivers will go clockwise around the course which mostly adheres to a street track, featuring tight walls and high fences. The course provides at least several long straightaways available for passing such as First Street between turns 3 and 4. However, there are a lot of twists and turns designed to test a driver’s handling ability. In particular, Turn 1 following the front stretch is a tight right-hand bend which is quickly followed by a left turn at Turn 2.
For the IndyCar Series race, top favorites for the St. Petersburg race include last year’s winner Montoya, series champion Scott Dixon, three-time Grand Prix of St. Petersburg champion Helio Castroneves, Will Power, and Graham Rahal.e
Drivers are scheduled to have practice for much of Friday. The majority of the qualifications for the races occur on Saturday.
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Photo Copyright: David Acosta Allely