Race Preview: St. Petersburg

Source: Team PR

Chip Ganassi Racing will enter St. Petersburg, Florida, with a clear mission: to defend their championship across the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season and assert their unparalleled level of success.

The team showcased its dominance yet again in 2023, etching their name in INDYCAR history books by becoming the first team to boast the Champion (Alex Palou), Runner-Up (Scott Dixon) and Rookie of the Year (Marcus Armstrong) in a single season.

Alex Palou produced five wins and 10 podiums to clinch his second championship in his third year with the team. It marked Chip Ganassi Racing’s 15th INDYCAR title – and their 10th in the past 16 seasons since series reunification in 2008.

The team will aim to start strong and win again at St. Petersburg, which would mark a season-opening victory for the fourth time in the past five seasons (2023: Ericsson – St. Pete; 2021: Palou – Barber; 2020: Dixon – Texas).

Chip Ganassi Racing will embark on the forthcoming season amidst an expansion to five cars, with their eclectic driver lineup consisting of six-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning two-time champion Alex Palou, 2023 Rookie of the Year Marcus Armstrong and newcomers Linus Lundqvist and Kyffin Simpson.

The CGR quintet will tackle the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street circuit for 100 laps on Sunday, March 10, with the broadcast available on NBC and Peacock starting at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Alex Palou
No. 10 DHL Honda

“St. Pete will mark a new year with new challenges, but also a new livery and a new partner with DHL. We’re very excited about that and we just rolled it out in Sebring where it looked amazing on track. I’ve never won at St. Pete and this is a great opportunity to start the year strong by winning the opener and checking that racetrack off our list. We’ve worked very hard this offseason and we feel prepared to continue on the path that we started creating in 2023. We want to defend the title and the best way to do it is to start things off by winning this week.”

  • Last season, Palou became the sixth driver to win multiple championships at 26-or-younger in the 100-plus-year history of the sport, joining Mario Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais, A.J. Foyt, Sam Hornish Jr. and Louis Meyer. 
  • Across his dominant campaign last season, Palou ranked first in the series with five wins, 10 podiums, two poles (tied for most), a 3.7 average finishing position and a 6.0 average starting position. He also became the first driver to clinch the championship before the season finale since 2007 (Bourdais).
  • Qualified within the top-six in 10 of the 17 races last year. 
  • Recorded four career starts at St. Pete, earning a P2 finish in 2022 after starting P10. Has led laps in three of his four races at the Florida street circuit.
  • Registered the best average finishing position among all drivers on street races in 2023, while registering one win (Detroit) and a podium in each of the final three street races on the calendar. 
  • Has made 50 starts with Chip Ganassi Racing. Through those 50 starts, he has earned nine wins (18%) and 24 podiums (48%).

Scott Dixon
No. 9 PNC Bank Honda

“I’m really looking forward to the warm weather in St. Pete where we can kick off the season. The race is always fantastic and last year, we had quite a good battle. We made it to the podium then but the goal this year is to get the win. This is a big event for PNC Bank and all of our team partners, and then the Dan Wheldon documentary premiere, as well, so it will be a full weekend.”

  • Finished second in the standings last season with 578 points, wrapping up the campaign with three wins across the final four races on the year (IMS RC; Gateway; Laguna Seca).
  • After the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Dixon will travel to Daytona where he will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame on Tuesday, March 12. Dixon is set to become just the sixth driver to be inducted into the Open Wheel category while still actively competing, joining Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Helio Castroneves and Al Unser.
  • In what will be the 20th St. Petersburg street circuit race, Dixon will become the first and only driver to make 20 starts in race history. While he has not secured a win in The Sunshine City, he boasts 7 podiums, including a P3 performance last year. He has finished on the podium in four of his past seven drives at St. Pete. 
  • Entering his 24th season racing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Dixon earned his place as the series’ all-time Iron Man last season – now entering St. Pete with 322 consecutive starts made, a streak that dates back to 2004.
  • Set a new INDYCAR SERIES record with a victory at his 27th racetrack throughout his career when he picked up the season-ending win at Laguna Seca. 
  • Has proven his consistency racing on street course circuits, boasting 10 wins (11%), 27 podiums (28%) and 48 top-five finishes (51%) across his 95 career street race starts.
  • Holds the INDYCAR SERIES records with a win in 19 consecutive seasons and a win in 21 overall seasons.

Marcus Armstrong
No. 11 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda

“St. Pete is quite special to me, as it is where I made my INDYCAR debut. It is a fantastic city and the circuit is quite enjoyable. It will be a fantastic opportunity to return to a circuit that I am familiar with. I haven’t had the opportunity to have such things lately. I am quite optimistic and think the No. 11 Ridgeline Lubricants crew is in for a big weekend. We will fight hard to get the result that we want.”

  • INDYCAR’s 2023 Rookie of the Year last season with 214 points despite racing exclusively in road and street course races. Fifth Chip Ganassi Racing driver to win the Rookie of the Year award (Rosenqvist – 2019; Montoya – 1999; Zanardi – 1996; Cheever Jr. – 1990). 
  • Made his INDYCAR debut on the Streets of St. Petersburg last year, where he finished 11th after beginning from a P13 starting position. 
  • Generated a net gain of +15 positions from the start to finish of the five street course races last year, the fifth-most among all drivers in that span.

Kyffin Simpson
No. 4 Journie Rewards Honda

“We’re off to St. Pete, where it will be my first race in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Obviously, I’m excited to get things underway and to start working with the team under a proper race setting. I felt pretty good on my side at the Sebring test and I think it was a good test for the team, as well. I feel like we’re looking pretty good going into St. Pete. We’ll see how things look in Practice 1 and then look for improvements from there.”

  • Set to make his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut after racing in the INDY NXT by Firestone series for the past two seasons. Registered two top-three finishes last year, standing on the podium at Mid-Ohio and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. 
  • Won the European Le Mans Series (LMP2) championship alongside CGR teammate Alex Lynn last year, among a full slate of sports car competition.
  • Exhibited stellar pace at the Sebring group test held February 26-27, where he recorded the fastest lap time (52.1677) among all INDYCAR rookies and the ninth-fastest lap among the entire field.

Linus Lundqvist
No. 8 American Legion Honda

“I’m very happy and excited to be heading to St. Pete, as it feels like it’s been a long offseason. It’s my first race with Chip Ganassi Racing so it will be a special one. I know that the team has done a great job; the boys and girls here at the shop have been flat-out in their preparation. Excited to put the No. 8 American Legion Honda on the track and see how competitive we can be.”

  • Entering the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season as a rookie despite competing in three races last season, where he posted the fastest lap among all drivers in two of the aforementioned races (Nashville and Gateway).
  • Won the 2022 INDY NXT by Firestone championship by a margin of 92 points after earning five wins, nine podiums and seven pole positions.
  • Made his INDY NXT debut in 2021, where he finished third in the points standings with three wins, 11 podiums and three pole positions.
  • Recorded three starts on the Streets of St. Petersburg in the INDYCAR ladder series, where he recorded two podium finishes (P3 in 2022; P3 in 2021 Race 1).