Unlike last blog, I am now certain when the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is – turns out I need a vacation a lot more than I realized.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. It’s opportunity. It’s a fresh start. It’s the one time no one can make fun of how the last race ended. It’s also like the first day of school, everyone is back on pit lane and in the garages. New cliques have formed over the off season, new teams have formed, and by the way there’s a new boss. For those of us in Indiana, we’re leaving the cold Midwest for the always sunny weather in St. Petersburg.
The race became an IRL/INDYCAR event in 2005, and holds the distinction of being IRL’s first non-oval event. Since 2009, the streets of St. Pete have served as the season opener, and what a location! The race is on a street circuit, one of four on the 2019 schedule, that utilizes a lot of waterfront streets. A unique feature of this race is the use of airport runways. The drivers hit Turn 14 and drive down a runway before the strong right hand turn into Turn 1. It has been the site of many exciting moments both in the race and in practice and qualifications. If you have the chance to sit in the Turn 1 stands for practice or qualifications – you should. It’s where some of my most favorite pictures from last year were taken.
Last year my rookie pic in our fantasy league did not disappoint! Within 2-5 laps, Felix Rosenqvist decided to pass Josef Newgarden and challenge Will Power. Rosenqvist is here to tell the series that it’s not fluke, he’s here to get shit done. Rosenqvist made a great challenge on Will Power in Turn 1, a pass and a game of chicken. The Rookie would go on to lead thirty-one laps out of the race. In our interview with Team Sweden of Chip Ganassi Racing, they teased the possibility of a full CGR podium – and may that will happen! Florida was not happy with her local drivers. On Lap 11, Sebastian Bourdais just had his car decide to stop. He, masterfully, pulled the car off into a runoff. The next Floridian in the tracks cross hairs was RHR, Lap 19 and his engine blew. Large trails of smoke covered the front stretch of the track.
Hopefully this year doesn’t start off with qualifying red flags (they PLAUGED the series last year). Maybe we’ll get two years in a row of no Turn 1 Lap 1 incidents. If you’re going, spend Friday at every seating area that you can. Also please wash your hands! Finally, pay attention to the rookies as it’s the first time in the car and the veterans since they have to deal with the new aeroscreen. My drivers I’ll be paying attention includes Alexander Rossi who seems extremely eager to get the championship, and rookie Rinus VeeKay who had a great race last year in Indy Lights. Here’s hoping Florida isn’t mean to her local drivers this year.
Let’s get going! INDYCAR is back!
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