Practice Report: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. March 27, 2015–The ABC Supply team got off to a solid start in St. Petersburg today with Jack Hawksworth and Takuma Sato putting the ABC Supply Hondas in the top half of the 24-car field. The drivers were on track for just one practice session with rain washing out the second session in the late afternoon.

Hawksworth posted a time of 1 minute, 1.8713 seconds which was the quickest of the Honda-powered cars and sixth fastest overall. Sato was 12th quickest at 1 minute, 2.1274 seconds and the third quickest Honda.

“We thought we weren’t going to get any running in today [because the forecast was for rain], so it was nice to get on track and get some driving in,” said Hawksworth, who is making his debut this weekend in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda. “I think we started off quite strong and the baseline of the car seems pretty good, so I’m quite excited to see what we can do tomorrow. Compared to last year’s car, we see a lot more grip so we can brake later and carry a little bit more speed through the corners. The practice times were faster than qualifying last year so that shows you how much grip the cars are generating this year.”

“It’s great to be back in St. Pete,” said Sato, who won the Verizon P-1 Pole Award last year with a time of 1 minute, 1.8668 seconds in his No. 14 ABC Supply Honda. “We waited for so long over the winter. The past two weeks we went testing to prepare for this event. The car worked pretty well the first session but we need to adjust more for the new aero and increased downforce. The lap times are already as quick as last year’s qualifying. It’s going to be a lot faster tomorrow and I’m looking forward to having a good practice before qualifying. Hopefully, in qualifying we’ll be strong.”

Eclipsing Sato’s pole-winning time was Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power who posted a time of 1 minute, 1.4709 seconds in his Chevy-powered car.

There will be a 45-minute practice at 12:30 p.m. ET tomorrow. Qualifying begins at 4:15 p.m. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised live on ABC Sunday afternoon starting at 3 p.m. ET.