This weekend the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg gets underway in Florida (Monday morning 7:37am New Zealand time).
Here are the Fast Facts from IndyCar.com for the opening round of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series:
– Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing begins defense of his 2018 NTT IndyCar Series championship at St. Petersburg. Dixon’s five season championships trail only the seven titles collected by A.J. Foyt. Dixon is third on the all-time Indy car victory list with 44 but has never won at St. Petersburg. He has three runner-up finishes at the circuit.
– The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the 16th Indy car race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Sebastien Bourdais, who makes his home in St. Petersburg, has won the last two races held on the streets of St. Petersburg. Paul Tracy won the inaugural race on Feb. 23, 2003, under CART sanction, while Bourdais started from the pole that year.
– The St. Petersburg Indy car race has been run every year since 2003 with the exception of 2004. No driver has competed in every St. Petersburg race, but Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan have started 14 straight races. Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay competed in the first race in 2003.
– Will Power (2010 and 2014) and Sebastien Bourdais (2017 and 2018) are the only entered drivers to win at St. Petersburg more than once. Helio Castroneves won three times (2006, 2007, 2012), while Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2015 and 2016. Past winners Graham Rahal (2008) and James Hinchcliffe (2013) are also entered.
– Team Penske has won the pole position for eight of the last 12 St. Petersburg races, including seven of the last nine poles with Will Power. Past pole winners Sebastien Bourdais (2003), Tony Kanaan (2008), Graham Rahal (2009) and Takuma Sato (2014) are also entered this weekend.
– Two drivers have won the race from the pole – Helio Castroneves (2007) and Will Power (2010). The St. Petersburg winner has qualified fourth in four of the last six seasons.
– Team Penske has won at St. Petersburg eight times, including four of the last seven races with Helio Castroneves (2012), Will Power (2014) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2015-16). Andretti Autosport has two wins at St. Petersburg with Dan Wheldon (2005) and James Hinchcliffe (2013) while Dale Coyne Racing has won the last two races (Sebastien Bourdais). Chip Ganassi Racing (Dario Franchitti in 2011) has won once at St. Petersburg.
– Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 301st consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Kanaan will attempt to make his 361st Indy car start, which ranks third on the all-time list.
– Scott Dixon has made 241 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti has made 217 consecutive starts, which is the third-longest streak in Indy car racing.
– Five rookies are entered and three – Marcus Ericsson, Ben Hanley and Felix Rosenqvist — will make their first NTT IndyCar Series start this weekend at St. Petersburg. The other Rookie of the Year candidates are Santino Ferrucci and Colton Herta.
– Since 2012, the NTT IndyCar Series has averaged nine different race winners per season, including a record-tying 11 winners in 2014. There were eight different winners in the 17 races of 2018 with an equally tight competition projected for the season.
– Drivers may engage their “push-to-pass” for a total of 150 seconds during the race, with a maximum duration of 15 seconds for any one The push-to-pass is not available on the initial start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower for 2019.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, March 8
10:45 – 11:30 a.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #1, NBC Sports Gold
2:20 – 3:05 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #2, NBC Sports Gold
Saturday, March 9
10:25 – 11:10 a.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #3, NBC Sports Gold
2:30 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg qualifying (Three rounds of knockout qualifications), NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold
Sunday, March 10
9:20 – 9:50 a.m. – NTT IndyCar Series warm-up, NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m. – NBCSN on air
1:30 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”
1:37 p.m (7:37am Monday NZ time). – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg green flag