Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Recap
Track: Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Race: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Date: February 27, 2022
No. 2 Hitachi Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings: 16th (-40)
Race Rundown: Josef Newgarden started ninth and finished 16th in a frustrating INDYCAR SERIES season-opener on the Streets of St. Pete on Sunday afternoon. Electing to go with a three-stop strategy, different than most of the field’s two-stop plans, Newgarden seemed to be fighting from behind all afternoon long, trying to make up time on a busy racetrack where much of the field was evenly matched. Newgarden’s No. 2 Hitachi Dallara/Chevrolet had pace, but was constantly stuck in traffic, which cost him time to the leaders and the eventual race winner. Eventually, the two-time series champion had to settle for a disappointing 16th place finish.
Newgarden’s Thoughts: “It was a tough weekend on the No. 2 car. It just didn’t pan out our way. We tried a different strategy than most, and it didn’t seem like the racing gods were shining on us this weekend. There are a lot of positives. We have a lot of new people on the 2 car and I felt like everyone worked super-well together. We’ve learned some things to start this year off, so our goal is to continue to build on this first weekend of the year and get better throughout. I can’t wait for the next one at Texas.”
No. 3 DEX Imaging Dallara/Chevrolet – Scott McLaughlin
Start: 1st – First career INDYCAR SERIES pole position
Finish: 1st – First career INDYCAR SERIES win
Laps Led: 49
Point Standings: 1st (+13)
Race Rundown: One of the most-accomplished racecar drivers over the last five years, Scott McLaughlin was used to visiting Victory Lane with regularity while competing in the Australian Supercars Series. On Sunday afternoon in St. Petersburg, McLaughlin and the No. 3 DEX Imaging Chevrolet team capped off a dominant weekend in the INDYCAR SERIES season opener with the first series victory for the Kiwi. The No. 3 Chevy was quick in both practice sessions before setting a track record in qualifying. With race strategist Kyle Moyer keeping his driver in the game on their two-stop pit strategy, the team made no mistakes and held off defending series champion Alex Palou to bring home the 599th all-time victory for Team Penske.
McLaughlin’s Thoughts: “This is unbelievable. Thank you to Roger Penske and everyone who put their faith in me… DEX Energy for jumping on board and trusting me, and Roger Penske and Tim Cindric giving me the opportunity to come here. I miss my mom and dad dearly and my family. It was crazy. I really struggled those last couple laps to keep my head to save fuel and all that stuff. We did it. Chevy gave us the fuel mileage. The drivability this weekend has been a big change. To win DEX Imaging’s home race is unreal. I love you Australia and New Zealand. I miss you guys and thinking of all you guys in the Queensland with all the floods at the moment. I just can’t believe this!”
No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power
Laps Led: 1
Point Standings: 3rd (-18)
Race Rundown: After narrowly missing out the 64th pole position of his career on Saturday afternoon, Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet team parlayed a second-place starting position into a third-place finish in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Power and his team chose to employ a two-stop pit strategy like their teammates on the No. 3 Chevy team. Like their teammates, they executed flawlessly despite an understeer condition on the first stint of the race. After catching lapped traffic over the final laps, Power was able to hold on to finish on the podium at St. Petersburg for the sixth time in his career.
Power’s Thoughts: “Yeah it (the early yellow) really hurt us badly. We were banking on being able to go long in that first stint and then pretty sure we would’ve got to the lead just because the reds drop so much. Then tried to short pit that middle stint but unfortunately we got the yellow. And I just was really trying to make the reds last. I was really happy with third. I think the Verizon Chevy crew did a phenomenal job with strategy to get us out of that situation and just a good solid day.”