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Montoya Holds Off Teammate Power to Win Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Sunday, March 29, 2015) – Juan Pablo Montoya held off Team Penske teammate and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power over the final 27 laps to win the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg by 0.9930 of a second.

Montoya held a 3.3-second advantage over Power following an exchange of final pit stops on Laps 81 and 82, but Power closed to within 0.6147 of a second on Lap 100 and was sizing up his best opportunity to attempt a pass of Montoya’s No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

Power, who set the track record on the way to winning the Verizon P1 Award for the 110-lap race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course a day earlier, made his move entering the tight left-hand Turn 10 on Lap 101. The cars made slight contact and Power’s No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet fell 1.5474 seconds back at the start/finish line.

“If I hadn’t damaged my wing, maybe I would have had another shot,” Power said. “He was very strong on the front straight and my exits weren’t very good. I thought maybe I would catch him off-guard there. You don’t expect someone to pass there, so, yeah, I gave it a shot.

“I was surprised at how aggressively he turned, but he wanted to win the race and so did I.”

Montoya recorded his second victory since returning full time to Indy car racing in 2014 and his first on an Indy car road or street course since Vancouver in his 1999 CART championship season.

“I saw (Power) make the move, but he was way too far and I wasn’t going to give him the position,” Montoya said. “If he was beside me, I would have said, ‘OK, go ahead.’ When I got to the turning point, he wasn’t even close. It is a shame we touched, but it’s all good, it’s racing.”

The last Team Penske 1-2 finish was August 2014 at Milwaukee, with Power beating Montoya by 2.7 seconds. It was the 175th Indy car victory for the team (78 on road or street courses).

“It was a fight between our two guys in front. It was just an amazing weekend,” team owner Roger Penske said. “To come back this year with the fast times in qualifying and win this race 1-2, and four drivers in the top six, wow, what a day.”

Tony Kanaan, driving the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, finished third and Helio Castroneves, the only three-time winner at St. Petersburg, placed fourth in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Simon Pagenaud finished fifth in the No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished seventh in the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport car, was the highest-placing Honda entry. Last year at St. Petersburg, Power held Hunter-Reay at bay on Laps 78-110 to make an opening-round statement on the way to earning his first series title.

Bucs wide receiver serves as grand marshal

Three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drew a cheer from the crowd growing in front of the Team Penske workspace in the St. Petersburg paddock, but he pointed to Helio Castroneves moving in for a handshake.

“It’s game day for him,” said Jackson, the grand marshal for the race. “He deserves an ovation.”

Jackson, who gave the command to start the Chevrolet and Honda engines, and Castroneves exchanged a Hitachi Team Penske shirt (XX large) and a Bucs jersey before the race. Jackson also presented Green Savoree Racing Promotions principals Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, owners of the annual event since 2005, jerseys with their names on the back.

“I’m a local (year-round Tampa resident) and I’ve come to this race for the last few years. This is an honor to be part of this event,” Jackson said. “It’s always entertaining, it’s always a great draw and the racing is phenomenal. This is a new role for me, not being a spectator and getting to know some of these guys and be part of the event. I’m a car guy and having Helio show me his car close up is exciting.”

St. Petersburg embraces the race

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman looked toward the blue sky, looked at the fans streaming into the downtown race circuit and declared it “a wonderful day” for the city and INDYCAR. Kriseman attributed the tens of thousands of spectators attending each of the three days of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in part to the city’s “Embrace the Race” marketing campaign.

“An event like this has such an impact on our city and we wanted to try to make everyone feel like they’re a part of it,” Kriseman said. “When you do that, you have so much more fun, too. I look forward every year to this weekend, and to see the community embrace it through the years, and especially this year, has been wonderful.

“The downtown has changed a lot since the first race (2003),” the mayor added, “and I expect that in the next few years it to look totally different with all the construction going on and new restaurants, and I see it as more opportunities to get people downtown on this weekend.”

The picturesque setting alongside Tampa Bay and spectacular early spring weather complemented the on-track action.

“It’s just a special place to go racing,” said Kevin Savoree, Green Savoree Racing Promotions president and COO. “The fans love this race, and I share with everyone that Kim (Green, CEO of Green Savoree) and I are just the stewards of this race. It really belongs to everybody in St. Pete and I’m sure that every year they put an ‘X’ on their calendar for this race weekend.”

Herta, Gordon to be added to Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame

Verizon IndyCar Series team owner and former Indy car driver Bryan Herta and Indy car race winner Robby Gordon will be inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame on April 16 as part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend.

Herta, whose Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian will enter the No. 98 Honda driven by series rookie Gabby Chaves in the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, drove to third-place finishes in the 1998 and ’99 races on the California street circuit.

“I had a pole at Long Beach and led three of the races, but it’s one that got away from me,” Herta said. “To be inducted into the Walk of Fame is incredibly special for me because it’s my home race.”

Gordon finished third in the 1994 Indy car race at Long Beach and posted victories in the 1992 Trans-Am Series and 2014 Formula Off-Road Series races.

Herta and Gordon are both Southern California residents. The Walk of Fame medallions include renditions of the racers’ cars and their major achievements in motorsports.

Six races, three winners in Mazda Road to Indy

The three Mazda Road to Indy ladders series conducted doubleheader races this weekend and each series saw the same driver win its two races. Ed Jones led every lap of both Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires races, Neil Alberico drove to victory in both Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires races and Jake Eidson was triumphant in the two Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda races.

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Tire Designations

SP Car Driver Name C/E/T Tire

1 1 Power, Will D/C/F Alternate
2 22 Pagenaud, Simon D/C/F Alternate
3 3 Castroneves, Helio D/C/F Alternate
4 2 Montoya, Juan Pablo D/C/F Alternate
5 14 Sato, Takuma D/H/F Alternate
6 11 Bourdais, Sebastien D/C/F Alternate
7 10 Kanaan, Tony D/C/F Alternate
8 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan D/H/F Alternate
9 9 Dixon, Scott D/C/F Alternate
10 67 Newgarden, Josef D/C/F Alternate
11 25 de Silvestro, Simona D/H/F Alternate
12 27 Andretti, Marco D/H/F Alternate
13 83 Kimball, Charlie D/C/F Primary
14 26 Munoz, Carlos D/H/F Alternate
15 15 Rahal, Graham D/H/F Alternate
16 5 Hinchcliffe, James D/H/F Primary
17 4 Coletti, Stefano (R) D/C/F Primary
18 8 Karam, Sage (R) D/C/F Primary
19 20 Filippi, Luca (R) D/C/F Alternate
20 7 Jakes, James D/H/F Primary
21 41 Hawksworth, Jack D/H/F Primary
22 98 Chaves, Gabby (R) D/H/F Primary
23 19 Dracone, Francesco (R) D/H/F Primary
24 18 Huertas, Carlos D/H/F Primary

Team Penske Sweeps Top Four to Start Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 28, 2015) – Team Penske swept the top four positions in the Firestone Fast Six, led by Verizon P1 Award winner Will Power, during qualifications for Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Series season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion recorded a lap of 1 minute, 0.6931 of a second in the 10-minute session on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg temporary street circuit in the competition debut of aerodynamic bodywork supplied by Chevrolet and Honda.

In the first two rounds of qualifying, Power set and reset the track record that Sebastien Bourdais (1:00.928) held since the inaugural St. Pete Indy car race in 2003. Power lowered the standard to 1:00.8344 in Round 1 and bettered it with a lap of 1:00.6509 in Round 2. Had he had a clean lap in the waning seconds of the Firestone Fast Six, the driver of the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet said he likely would have made it three in a row.

It was the 37th career pole (sixth on the all-time pole wins list) for Power, who previously was the top qualifier at St. Petersburg in 2010-13. He won the race in 2010 and again in 2014 on the way to his first series championship.

First-year Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud was 0.0321 of a second behind Power in the Firestone Fast Six to qualify second. Helio Castroneves, the only three-time race winner at St. Petersburg, qualified third (1:00.8356) and Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth (1:00.8532).

“It was tight. Full credit to the team. I’m stoked to get pole,” said Power, who won from the fourth starting position in his 2014 series championship season. “It just shows the work we’ve done over the winter. It’s four good drivers that will battle it out (3 p.m. ETSunday on ABC).

“Team Penske has definitely made ground over the winter over the other teams. I think it’s going to be a pretty interesting four-way battle amongst the team and Scott Dixon is right in there as well. I expect those five to be the championship contenders.”

Takuma Sato, who earned the Verizon P1 Award in 2014 with a lap of 1:01.8668 in the Firestone Fast Six driving the No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing car, was the quickest qualifier of the Honda contingent in fifth (1:01.1496) and Bourdais qualified sixth (1:01.1545) in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevrolet.

Stefano Coletti qualified 17th in the No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet as the top rookie.

Power makes it two on monument, looks for three

Will Power affixed a plaque bearing his name to the Victory Circle monument near Turn 10 of the St. Petersburg track today and promptly pointed to the next available space on the granite block.

“My name is on there twice now. Let’s see if I can make it three,” said Power, who added the new plaque commemorating his victory in the 2014 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after winning the 2010 race.

A Buckshot by any other name

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Jakes is British, by way of Leeds, England. But now, thanks to his team, he has “a good, old-fashioned, American” nickname.

“They call me ‘Buckshot,'” Jakes said with a laugh as he pointed out the corresponding sticker on the rear of his helmet. “It just came out of nowhere.”

In his previous Verizon IndyCar Series seasons from 2011-13, Jakes was informally known as “Jakesy.” Now, with James Hinchcliffe as his teammate and both sharing the same first name, something had to change.

“With two Jameses flying around, the engineers thought it would get complicated,” Jakes said. “My engineer (Dan Hobbs) has a NASCAR background and thought it would fit.”

The Captain is ready for season to set sail

Roger Penske is the winningest owner in Indy car history, with 174 race victories that include 15 Indianapolis 500 triumphs. Even with all that success behind him, the Team Penske owner is excited for what looms ahead this season.

“With the new aero kits creating a different look and feel for the cars, there is a lot of energy and anticipation around the start of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series,” Penske said. “We know how competitive the series has been in recent years and with some talented young drivers added to the mix this year, it has all the elements to be a very exciting season. This is the first time we will run four cars at Team Penske, with Simon Pagenaud joining Helio (Castroneves), Will (Power), the series champion, and Juan (Montoya), we know the level of competition will be even higher among our own team. After a long offseason, we are all definitely ready for the green flag at St. Petersburg.”

Karam on the mend

Sage Karam, competing in his second Verizon IndyCar Series race this weekend, is still recovering from a hand injury suffered March 16 during the preseason Promoter Test at Barber Motorsports Park. Karam said he felt “about 90 percent” in the seat of the No. 8 GE LED Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Chevrolet on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg street circuit.

Post-Qualifying Quotes:

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “We’re not even close. I thought our potential was a little better than that. We’ve been struggling with understeer – can’t get the car to turn – which, for outright pace, is not good. But maybe for the race that’s a good situation to try and look after the (Firestone) reds.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “Just really proud of the KVSH boys. It’s one of those days where it can go either way. For the first time since ’03, I got out of the (first qualifying) group and got in the (Firestone) Fast Six. OK, we got off to a good start. Pretty proud of that. The car was pretty good. We started the weekend really in a hole. It might not have shown in the lap times, but we were not happy with the car. It was pretty rough. So to come out and make the Fast Six, it’s a good achievement. It’s definitely better than where we started last year. We’ll see how we can race. But there was definitely something in that last lap. I got a bit greedy. I was up a tenth and a half (of a second), I went for it, went to the escape road and probably ruined Simon’s lap. It is what it is. But very happy with the progress we made and looking forward to tomorrow.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet): “The Hitachi car has been pretty consistent, I have to say. We basically worked a little bit harder than what we thought. I have three other very good guys in the team, which is good because each one tries something different. In the end of the day, you’re just pushing to the limit. So it’s a perfect testament of great teamwork. Having 1, 2, 3, 4 (in qualifying) shows we’re pushing to the limit, all four of us. I think each one wants to be in front, but at least for the team it’s a good problem to have, having all four guys fighting for the pole position. I’m very excited at this point because we work in a way that hopefully we are going to have a result like that. That’s our goal. Our goal is to go out there and try to win a race. The best day for each car? We will find out tomorrow.”

STEFANO COLETTI (No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “It was a disappointing qualifying for my first INDYCAR race. I have been struggling with the car all weekend. The things we thought we learned at the Sebring test earlier in the week, we found out did not work here. Despite the limited track time we have had, I was able to learn the track pretty quick and it’s a lot of fun. We will work on the car tonight and make some changes and hopefully, tomorrow I will have a good race car and have a good result for my first Verizon IndyCar Series race.”

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda): “Eleventh is OK, for sure. I would have liked to be a little bit more up front. But being back here in INDYCAR, it’s definitely been a busy week. We just tested a little bit at the beginning of the week, and just getting to work with everybody here at Andretti Autosport has been great. I think to qualify where we are, it’s OK for the race. Hopefully we can improve tomorrow.” (On the biggest thing she’s noticed since her return to the Verizon IndyCar Series) “Well, definitely the aero kit; it changes the car quite a bit. I think that’s the biggest thing. You have to change a little bit how you’re driving and even kind of understand what the car needs to be fast. I think we’re all learning that, and hopefully we’ll make even more improvements tomorrow.”

FRANCESCO DRACONE (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “It was a pretty hard day. ‘Quali’ was difficult to set the pace needed but the car was much improved from practice sessions. The team is doing a great job. Having the red tires for the first time was challenging for me, having never used them. The track is getting faster and faster. The balance seemed to get better on the red tires so I am looking forward to more laps on those. Tomorrow we are going to go for a good pace and try to avoid mistakes. It has been a challenge for me all weekend because I’m driving a new car for the first time on a circuit I have never driven. All of the drivers here in Florida are at a very high level.”

LUCA FILIPPI (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “The lap times were very close and I felt good in the car, especially the last few laps. I thought we were doing quite well, but actually the times were so tight I missed the first cut and did not make it to Round 2. We ran the first few laps on used tires and I didn’t have a good read on the condition. Tomorrow is a long race, we’ll think about the strategy and try to get the best out of it. I think we will be strong for the longer run.”

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “For some reason we were struggling under braking — the rear of the car was pretty loose and we didn’t have any traction so we need to find out why and start again tomorrow. Obviously on the first day we had a pretty competitive car so we need to understand what’s going on and come back better tomorrow. Fortunately we have the morning warmup where we can validate what’s going on.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda): “I’m obviously pretty gutted not to make it out of the first qualifying session. That’s not what I’m used to or what this team is used to. Certainly there are some areas for improvement, but it’s not due to lack of trying. We’ve been working so hard this weekend and over the last couple of tests to get the Arrow Electronics car dialed in. It’s just a little bit far from where we need it right now, but it’s not a long way. When you look at the times, it’s just a small change that will give us what we need to jump up a few positions. We’ll look at it overnight and learn a bit more in warm-up tomorrow, but we’ve got a bit of a strategy advantage with an extra set of (Firestone) reds. Not to say we wouldn’t rather be a little further up the grid, but that’s the situation we’re in and hopefully we’re going to come together with a good package tomorrow. With some quick driving, good pit work, good strategy, we’ll get up there.”

CARLOS HUERTAS (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “Obviously I was hoping to start higher than I am. I got into the 1:01‘s, which I was happy about, but it wasn’t enough. It is so tight out there and when you look at the times there isn’t much between advancing and not advancing. I think we are still struggling with setup some, which makes it even harder when it is tight. We need to work tonight and concentrate ontomorrow. I hope we can make some changes tonight and can be faster for the racetomorrow.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “In many ways we rebounded today from yesterday’s practice, but it was a disappointing qualifying run. From the first laps, I didn’t really feel we had the balance and the grip level to contend for the Verizon P1 Award, so we need to go back and find some more grip. We’re just a little shy on overall grip at the moment, and hopefully tomorrow we can put it together for warm-up and get this DHL Honda up front. It’s a bit of a frustrating day here because we’ve been in the Firestone Fast Six here in the past. We’ll look to regroup for tomorrow.”

JAMES JAKES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It was a very difficult day, to be honest. It’s a shame but we’re making progress with the No. 7 SPM MediaTech car. We have a little bit more work to do. Hopefully we can have a good racetomorrow and move forward. Our goal is to get some solid points and develop a good baseline to continue the season with.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 8 GE LED Chevrolet): “It’s pretty frustrating. That was the expectation for me – to go to the next round. It’s a good car. It’s the first time I’ve driven on red (tires), so it’s a learning experience for me. Every lap, I felt like I was getting better and better, and I was starting to brake later and later. I was starting to lose the tire a little bit. I think that’s one of the things the rookies are going to face here this weekend is that we’ve never driven red tires. We have to learn them. We’re going to go to the next race and have a better understanding for it and be able to qualify better. The GE LED car for Chip Ganassi Racing is a pretty good car now. I think we have a good race car and can race our way to the front.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet): “It’s good. I’m kind of disappointed with that lap, to be honest. It’s funny because from my previous session I was three-tenths (of a second) up coming to Turn 10. It’s the last corner. Just had to lift on the exit. Mad, but still ran a decent lap. I don’t know, for the team I think it shows how hard we work over the winter. I think it shows as well having Simon (Pagenaud) onboard and being a four-car team, I think it’s been really, really good. Running the Verizon car has been amazing. I don’t know, like we said yesterday, what could be better: 1, 2, 3?  It was a 1, 2, 3, 4. To be honest, I think all the year is going to be like that. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t beat each other.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV/Cinsay Honda): “It was OK. I’m just a little bit frustrated – I could have gone into the next phase. Everyone’s really close here, so you really have to set up every piece (of the car) together (to get it right). It’s a shame, buttomorrow’s a long race, so we’ll see what happens.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet): “I’m relatively happy. You’re in the front end of the grid. There are 24 cars, so starting in the top 10 is strong around this place. This is generally a very difficult place on tires, so the further up you start, it’s always better. We’re going to have to look after them better tomorrow. I think we’re kind of burning off our rears a little too quick. So in the morning warmup, we’ll have to maximize that and make our tires live. It’s such a long race and you have to be able to make them live. If you don’t, people keep sneaking up behind you out of the hairpin and you get dive-bombed going into Turn 1. I think that’s what we’re working on to maximize for tomorrow. As far as today, we struggled in the practice earlier and I think we made a huge leap forward. Now we’re in the top 10 and we have to work our way a little bit more, try to get into the top five and challenge the guys up front.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet): “It’s very fast. I’m super happy, to be honest. It’s incredible to start this way with Team Penske. We have a lot of pace. The car is fantastic. Thanks to everyone for searching and developing so much. The 22 crew is brand new and is doing a great job. It’s fantastic to be a part of the Penske family. I’m really proud. Today was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed qualifying.”

WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet): “It’s been a really good offseason. I think just the way the team is, the teammates, it provides a lot of motivation. Obviously winning the championship makes it a very pleasant offseason. You’re not sitting around wondering why you didn’t win again. Yeah, I’m enjoying it. I was really satisfied to get pole here today. All the practice sessions are working towards that, literally one lap that gets you pole. It’s a session where everyone gives it everything they’ve absolutely got. When you get pole, it’s very satisfying. It’s really difficult these days to do that. You don’t see anyone getting more than three or four poles during a season now. It’s the same for wins. Anytime you’re at that end of an INDYCAR field, it’s awesome.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “We just seem to struggle with power down. We were only a couple of hundredths (of a second) away from advancing to Round 2. So if we can figure out how to maximize power down and get off the corner well enough, we will be in a better position. In fact, the lap before my best lap was a tenth (of a second) better down the front straight and that’s probably the tenth we needed to advance. It’s going to be a long day of work tomorrow starting from 15th. I think we’ll be OK in the race, but starting from where we are is going to make for a long day.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “It’s a new season. Very exciting with Honda and Chevrolet presenting new aero packages. For the fans, cosmetically different, too. We obviously need to maximize performance. Over the course of the winter testing, I think we were quite satisfied with the result today. Proud to have the A.J. Foyt Racing car in the top six. Jack had a little issue, but we’ll find out.”

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Qualifying Results

Click here to view and download the official qualifying results from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Qualifying Saturday for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.8 mile(s) St. Petersburg street circuit, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (1) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 01:00.6931 (106.767)
2. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy, 01:00.7252 (106.710)
3. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 01:00.8356 (106.517)
4. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 01:00.8532 (106.486)
5. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.1496 (105.970)
6. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 01:01.1545 (105.961)
7. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 01:01.1182 (106.024)
8. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.1670 (105.939)
9. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 01:01.2285 (105.833)
10. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 01:01.2478 (105.800)
11. (25) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.3657 (105.596)
12. (27) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.4765 (105.406)
13. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 01:01.5727 (105.241)
14. (26) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.4890 (105.385)
15. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.5742 (105.239)
16. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.5780 (105.232)
17. (4) Stefano Coletti, Dallara-Chevy, 01:01.6727 (105.071)
18. (8) Sage Karam, Dallara-Chevy, 01:01.8011 (104.853)
19. (20) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Chevy, 01:01.6736 (105.069)
20. (7) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.8323 (104.800)
21. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 01:02.0095 (104.500)
22. (98) Gabby Chaves, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.9705 (104.566)
23. (19) Francesco Dracone, Dallara-Honda, 01:04.2654 (100.832)
24. (18) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 01:01.9716 (104.564)

St. Petersburg Qualifying Groups

Group 1
#22 Simon Pagenaud
#14 Takuma Sato
#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay
#15 Graham Rahal
#83 Charlie Kimball
#10 Tony Kanaan
#4 Stefano Coletti (R)
#20 Luca Filippi
#67 Josef Newgarden
#41 Jack Hawksworth
#25 Simona DeSilvestro
#19 Francesco Dracone (R)

Group 2

Group 2
#1 Will Power
#3 Helio Castroneves
#2 Juan Pablo Montoya
#9 Scott Dixon
#11 Sebastien Bourdais
#26 Carlos Munoz
#8 Sage Karam (R)
#27 Marco Andretti
#5 James Hinchcliffe
#7 James Jakes
#18 Carlos Huertas
#98 Gabby Chaves (R)


Power Leads Opening Day of Practice at St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 27, 2015) – Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power kicked off the “aero era” by recording the quickest lap time in today’s initial practice session for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Power’s lap of 1 minute, 1.4709 seconds in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet breezed past the 2014 Verizon P1 Award-winning lap of 1:01.8668 produced by Takuma Sato on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.

Power was among five drivers, including Team Penske teammates Juan Pablo Montoya (1:01.6996) and Helio Castroneves (1:01.7000), to better last year’s pole time, even without the Firestone Firehawk alternate tires that they’ll be allowed to use in the three rounds of Saturday qualifications.

As a steady rain fell through the afternoon, no drivers turned laps in the companion session. Another practice session is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday preceding qualifications for the 110-lap race Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ABC).

Last year at St. Petersburg, James Hinchcliffe’s lap of 1:02.9326 topped the first session.

“It was pretty straightforward for us. I think it’s just understanding last year’s mechanical balance of the car with the new aero stuff and just going through basic changes to see what they do,” said Power, who won the season-opening race in March 2014 and earned the St. Petersburg pole four straight years from 2010-13.

“The kits produce massive downforce, low drag and the cars are absolutely glued to the track. Obviously, as we go along in the year we are going to learn more and more about what we need to push for wins.”

Scott Dixon (1:01.7777) and Sebastien Bourdais (1:01.8439) also were quicker around the circuit than the 2014 pole time using the Chevrolet aero/engine package. Second-year driver Jack Hawksworth (1:01.8713) was quickest of the 12 Honda drivers.

Bourdais’ track record of 1:00.928 (106.710 mph) set in qualifying for the inaugural Indy car race in 2003 could come under assault.

Both manufacturers developed aerodynamic bodywork platforms for street/road course and short ovals along with a speedway package under INDYCAR regulations. The Chevrolet and Honda aero kits also look distinctly different.

There are multiple combinations of components that crews can utilize to tailor the package to suit drivers and a particular racetrack to optimize performance. They’ve had two weeks of on-track testing available to decipher the characteristics of the road/street and short oval package. The speedway aero kits are scheduled to be delivered to teams April 1 and make their competitive debut at the Indianapolis 500.

“There’s a noticeable speed increase from last year and that’s from downforce without a lot of drag penalty,” said CFH Racing driver Josef Newgarden, who was 10th on the time chart. “They’re very efficient packages and Chevrolet and Honda have spent millions of dollars into making the best aerodynamic pieces that they can.

“Everything on the car is lot more refined and it’s just faster. That’s the big difference in plain terms.”

Added 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay: “Racing, first of all, is all about innovation and development and that’s what we have with the aero kits. The engine manufacturers have been tasked to put on as much downforce as efficiently as possible, and what you see is a complete transformation of this Indy car where Chevy has its own look and brand and Honda has its own look and brand and stamp on the car.

“The performance is up, track records will be broken this year, and they look like you need to wear protective gloves around them, so they look awesome. They look like they should, which is incredibly fast and somewhat scary.”

Wilson joins Andretti Autosport for Indy races

Andretti Autosport announced that Indy car veteran Justin Wilson will drive for the team in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9 and the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24. Wilson, a seven-time race winner in 11 Indy car seasons, will drive the No. 25 Honda. Andretti Autosport is the reigning Indy 500 champion with Hunter-Reay.

“I know that the team has everything in place to do well and I’m really confident about what the group is capable of this year,” said Wilson.

Added team owner Michael Andretti, “Having Justin on the team has been something we’ve been looking at for quite some time, so we’re excited to finally make it happen.”

Celebs have speedy experience
Mario Andretti quickly zipped around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg street circuit much to the delight of his passengers Thursday in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater. Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Major Wright and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, “SI Now” host Maggie Gray and Anthony Sullivan, a/k/a the OxiClean spokesperson, were among the riders.

“My heartrate is above 200 right now. It’s a thrill to have a legend, Mario Andretti, give me a ride,” said Sullivan, who eagerly posed with the Bucs players for photos after his ride. “The most surprising thing to me was the speed, the poise, the control entering some of those turns. I thought, ‘When is he going to brake?’ It’s a whole new appreciation for driving at that level.”

Of note

Team Penske announced that the Hitachi Group has extended its team sponsorship through the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Helio Castroneves will drive the No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet in nine races this season, including the season opener at St. Petersburg. Hitachi also will be an associate sponsor on the three other Team Penske cars. … Mazda Road to Indy drivers Zach Veach, Neil Alberico and Spencer Pigot visited patients at nearby All Children’s Hospital on Thursday. It’s an annual event coordinated by Racing For Kids, which also donated televisions and video game equipment to the hospital. … Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires driver Michael Johnson of JDC Motorsports remained at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg under ICU observation with fractures to the hip and pelvis, following a crash in the opening practice session this morning.


WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet): “It’s awesome to be at an event where times actually count. Obviously not today, but tomorrow and Sunday. Good testing, and obviously, Team Penske has definitely made ground over the winter over the other teams. I think it’s going to be a pretty interesting four-way battle amongst the team and Scott Dixon is right in there as well. I expect those five to be the championship contenders.” (Comparing the performance of the car at St. Pete from last year to today): “I think it’s just (about) understanding last year’s mechanical balance of the car with the new aero stuff and just going through basic changes to see what they do. It was pretty straightforward for us. I think we rolled off pretty good with all four cars.” (Which is contributing more to Chevrolet’s dominance, the engine or the aero kit?): “I think it’s both. I think they’re better with the engine and the aero right now. It’s hard to say which is more. I think they did a very good job with the aero kit, Chevy did.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet): “It’s a long offseason for us, but to be honest with you, the last couple months have been pretty busy for us doing a lot of testing and preparation for this. It’s fun for me, second year back and I feel a lot better than last year. I think we have gained a lot over the winter with the car and I think it made a lot of difference.” (On comparing how his car performed here last year and today): “Last year was a tough year for us at the beginning. We knew that. Normally I’m really good at remembering everything about every track and last year I think this was such a blur for me. I was so overwhelmed with everything that I didn’t really pay too much attention to details. But I felt really good straight away (this year) that all of the work we did over the winter with the car made me really, really happy. I’m really comfortable with the car.” (Did all four Team Penske drivers try different things today?) “Each engineer knows what their driver wants and it seems each one is doing his own thing. We have the data there, we have all the information. If somebody makes a change that works, we all know about it. We all drive so different. It’s not so much the driving, it’s the feeling that we want out of the car is so different. You look at us driving, it looks pretty similar but what we want the feel to be is very different. To get that feel, we achieve it in very different ways.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet): “Pretty happy with the first day on the Penske Truck Rental Chevy. We were fast out of the box and we also made some improvements through first practice. For us, we’ve been getting up to speed as a group and so far everything is going pretty smoothly. I’m really looking forward to qualifying tomorrow to see what we can do.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “There was some promise in our early speed; the DHL Honda was up at the top of the time charts there for the first couple of runs, but as the session went on we just didn’t get the most out of the car. We need to do some changes to react to the balance that we now have. On our new tire runs we had yellow flags in the corner so I had to slow down. I think at best we could have been P9, P8. A lot of the front runners ran three sets of tires instead of the two sets that we ran. Hopefully with our changes we can move forward tomorrow.” (On aero kits): “Racing, first of all, is all about innovation and development and that’s what we have with the aero kits. The engine manufacturers have been tasked to put on as much downforce as efficiently as possible, and what you’ve see is a complete transformation of this Indy car where Chevy has its own look and brand and Honda has its own look and brand and stamp on the car. The performance is up, the speeds – the track records will be broken this year, and they look like you need to wear protective gloves around them, so they look awesome. They look like they should, which is incredibly fast and somewhat scary.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “We struggled today with brake issues, so we only had one real run there at the end of the first session. We think we have a direction on where we need to go but a lot of work to do in Practice 3 tomorrow, and then on to quals. Looking to move the Snapple car up the charts.”

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda): “First session went OK. I think as a team we are not quite where we want to be, but we are going to work really hard. For me, it was good to be back in the car; it felt okay out there, just looking at a few changes and hopefully we’ll do another leap forward. It’s great to be back here in St. Pete.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV/Cinsay Honda): “We’re back in St. Petersburg. The second session was rained out, so our day didn’t go as planned. We have a bit of work to do. The first session tomorrow is for 45 minutes and then qualifying, so we’ll see how it goes. The important thing is qualifying, so now we are thinking and working towards that.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chevrolet): “Things weren’t too bad with the Target car. Generally the car felt pretty good. We had a lot of understeer and missed a bit on the aero setup but we’ll continue to get there. It’s not like we’re seconds off the pace. I didn’t really get a chance to put a good lap together either and there was a lot of traffic to deal with. I was glad we got some running in before the rain so all in all a good start to the weekend for us. I can’t wait to get the season started here in St. Petersburg.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT DATA Chevrolet): “It’s unfortunate that we had to battle with some electrical issues during that first practice session and then weren’t able to get out for the second session with the rain. We had some things we really wanted to work on and with the issues first thing out, we just weren’t able to get any full runs in. We’ll get back out there tomorrow and work through a few things and then be ready to go for qualifying.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 8 GE LED Chevrolet): “Although we only got to run one session today due to rain, I feel we got a good foundation under the GE LED car for tomorrow. The goal was to just get comfortable back in the car today and not make any mistakes. We weren’t working on outright speed today. We wanted to get some good laps in, get some good data to go off of, and some more experience under my belt. This is a learning process and we’ll start looking to improve on speed tomorrow when the weather cooperates a bit more.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet): “The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew is pretty happy with today. We have some improvements to make to the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet but overall it was a good start. There are probably three to four spots on the track where I need to be better coupled with the car being better, but there are a few spots where I feel really strong. So if we can just keep those strengths and fix those areas that need to be improved I think we’ll be on par.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet): “It was a good, solid starting day for the No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet team. I was really disappointed to see the rain come because we still have some more things to try in hopes of picking up more speed, but we will have to go to work tomorrow. I’m excited about the speed in the car and I think we can challenge for the win, for sure.”

STEFANO COLETTI (No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “It was great to get out on the St. Petersburg track with all the other drivers. It was only practice and not a racing situation, but it was competitive and gave me an opportunity to learn the track and work on some things. It was a lot of fun. We know what we need to do to make the No. 4 KV Racing Technology car better, but unfortunately, because of the weather we didn’t get out for the afternoon session. The weather report is good for tomorrow, so we will make some changes for the morning practice and hopefully that will give me a really good car for my first Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying session.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “We had a pretty good day in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH machine. We thought we had learned a lot of things at the Sebring test earlier this week, but they didn’t quite carry over. So, we back pedaled quickly and went back to a more conventional street course setup that we know better. I didn’t manage to do the perfect lap, but it put us back in a position that we are familiar with, in the top-five. We obviously couldn’t make any progress in the afternoon session due to the rain. But looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully we will put it all together and have a good qualifying for the first race of the year.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “We would have liked to have gotten back on track for the second session to see if we could improve, but it didn’t make sense to run in the rain because the weather the rest of the weekend looks good so there was nothing to be gained. I thought the car was decent in the first session, but we have a little work to do to make some improvements. We are in the thick of it, but we need to find a little more speed to leap us up to the next group of guys. I feel okay about the day though. If we find ourselves a couple of tweaks, we can shuffle ourselves up the grid. There is more work to be done Saturday and I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

#INDYRIVALS Fantasy Challenge Kicks Off 2015 Season

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Tuesday, March 24, 2015) – Fantasy racing has returned to the Verizon IndyCar Series with today’s launch of the #INDYRIVALS Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone. INDYCAR’s newest fantasy game allows fans to become Team Manager by fielding a four-driver lineup for each Verizon IndyCar Series race with a stockpile of prizes on the line each week as the stars of the series go wheel-to-wheel for race wins.

The rewards are substantial, highlighted by the ultimate grand prize – a VIP experience at the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2016 – and supplemented by weekly prize contributions from Firestone, Verizon, Sunoco and others.

“The #INDYRIVALS Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone is a great way to further engage our fans and get them even closer to the Verizon IndyCar Series action,” said C.J. O’Donnell, CMO of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Our partners at Firestone, Verizon and Sunoco have provided a great prize package for each week and we felt the grand prize of a VIP experience at the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is a great reward for our season champion. I know a lot of us at INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are already planning which drivers to pick for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.”

Fans score points by selecting the fastest four-driver roster for each of the 16 races, but they’ll have to manage the salary cap as they balance their lineup between Indianapolis 500 winners, Verizon IndyCar Series champions and young up-and-coming INDYCAR stars.

Participants also can create their own league in which they can compete among friends, family and an expert panel of INDYCAR insiders and celebrities.

Prizes available in the #INDYRIVALS Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone include replica Firestone Firehawk INDY racing tires and Verizon Vehicle – the next generation of vehicle information technology that delivers the most versatile, comprehensive service that equips drivers with real-time diagnostic updates and live assistance at the press of a button. Other prizes include autographed Firestone Racing hats, opportunities to host a guest blog on, INDYCAR Nation Champion memberships and Verizon IndyCar Series official merchandise.

Sign up today, and learn more, at and make your selections for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will be broadcast live onMarch 29 on ABC at 3 p.m. ET and via the IMS Radio Network, Sirius 213 and XM 209.

FAST FACTS – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

FAST FACTS – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Track: 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit (clockwise)

Race distance: 110 laps / 198 miles

Entry List:  Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (PDF)

Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for 15 seconds each

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, three sets alternate

Twitter: @GPSTPETE, @IndyCar, #FirestoneGP, #IndyCar

Event website:

INDYCAR website:

2014 race winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car) 

2014 Verizon P1 Award winner: Takuma Sato (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing car) … 1 minute, 01.8668 seconds (104.738 mph) in Firestone Fast Six

Qualifying lap record: Sebastien Bourdais on Feb. 22, 2003 (1:00.928; 106.710 mph)

ABC race broadcast: Sunday, March 29 (3 p.m. ET)

Allen Bestwick is the lead announcer for ESPN on ABC broadcasts for the second consecutive year alongside analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever Jr. Rick DeBruhl, Dr. Jerry Punch and Jon Beekhuis are the pit reporters.

Video Streaming: All practice sessions for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season will be available on the INDYCAR YouTube channel . Qualifying for races telecast by ABC will also be available via live streaming.

Radio broadcasts: Paul Page is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network, Sirius 213, XM 209,,  and on the INDYCAR 15 app.

Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying is broadcast on Sirius 213, XM 209, and the INDYCAR 15 app. Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions plus Indy Lights practice and qualifying are on,, and the INDYCAR 15 app.

At-track schedule (all times local): 

Friday, March 27 (Promoter Day) 

12:30-1:45 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice) 

4:15-5:30 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice)

Saturday, March 28

12:30-1:15 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice) 

4:15 p.m. (Three rounds of qualifications)

Sunday, March 29

12-12:30 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series warm-up) 

3 p.m. ABC on air

3:37 p.m. Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg green flag

Race Notes:

* The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg marks the competition debut of aerodynamic bodywork kits designed, manufactured and supplied by Chevrolet and Honda. Cars will be differentiated by their shape on the street course as the manufacturers have designed separate aero kit specifications for road and street course/short ovals and speedways for the Dallara IR-12 chassis. References to the cars will incorporate the name of the corresponding manufacturer.

* Aero kit competition complements the fourth year of engine manufacturer competition between Chevrolet and Honda with their 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. It will be another season testing speed and durability to determine the Manufacturer Champion.

* Five drivers will make their first start at St. Petersburg – Stefano Coletti, Sage Karam, Gabby Chaves, Luca Filippi and Francesco Dracone. The first three are Sunoco Rookie of the Year award candidates. Filippi has competed in eight Verizon IndyCar Series races and makes his debut with CFH Racing. Chaves was the 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion, while Karam, who be the youngest driver to start an Indy car for Chip Ganassi Racing, won the 2013 title. Dracone competed in two races in 2010.

* Will Power, who had earned consecutive poles at St. Petersburg in 2010-13, won the 2014 season opener at St. Petersburg after qualifying fourth. He went on to win his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Power also won the race in 2010. Team Penske has won the pole position in five out of the last eight Grand Prix of St. Petersburg races.

* Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 234th consecutive race, which would extend his Indy car-record streak that began in 2001 at Portland. Teammate Scott Dixon has made 175 consecutive starts.

* Dixon, the longest-tenured driver for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, is tied with Bobby Unser for fifth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 35. He has three runner-up finishes at St. Petersburg but has not won.

* Helio Castroneves, who has won the race in  2006, 2007 and 2012, has been the Verizon IndyCar Series championship runner-up the past two seasons. Castroneves finished third at St. Petersburg in 2014.

* Simona de Silvestro, who made 65 starts over four Verizon IndyCar Series seasons, returns to the series in an Andretti Autosport Honda after a year absence to pursue a Formula One career. 

* There were a record-tying 11 different winners in the 18 races of 2014, and equally tight competition is projected for the 2015 season.

* With six victories in 11 races at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Team Penske is the winningest team in the history of the Verizon IndyCar Series. Three different Team Penske drivers have visited Victory Lane at St. Petersburg. Helio Castroneves has won three times at the venue (2006, 2007, 2012, more than any other driver), while Will Power has two St. Pete wins to his credit (2010 and last season). Ryan Briscoe opened the 2009 season with a victory for Team Penske. Chip Ganassi Racing has won four of the last 10 Verizon IndyCar Series openers (Homestead: 2006, 2007, 2008; St. Pete: 2011).

The 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the 12th Indy car race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Paul Tracy won the inaugural race on Feb. 23, 2003, under CART sanction. Sebastien Bourdais, entered in this year’s race, started from the pole. On March 21, Bourdais co-drove to the overall victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring. He is a St. Petersburg resident. 

Pre-Race Quotes:

Will Power (No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet, defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2014 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race winner): “I’m really excited to get the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series started and represent the sport as the champion throughout the year. Even though I was able to break through last year and win my first title, I am preparing to go into this season just as hungry as I was before I became a champion. The drive to win multiple championships is just as strong as the drive to win one. To do that, it’s important to get off to a good start at St. Pete. Winning there last year in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet was critical to the championship push. Now that I’m in the No. 1 Verizon Chevy for 2015, we need to put the new number in Victory Lane as well.” (About debut of aero kit competition): “As we are starting to understand the new Chevrolet aero kits, it’s clear that they have done a proper job in the design and development of them. The kits produce massive downforce, low drag and the cars are absolutely glued to the track. Obviously, as we go along in the year we are going to learn more and more about what we need to push for wins. That is where having a new, fourth car with Simon Pagenaud will be key. His ability to communicate what a car is doing and what it needs is really impressive. He’s going to add a lot to Team Penske and I look forward to racing as his teammate for quite a while.”

Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet): “The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season was one of a lot of adjustments for me getting re-introduced to these cars again after 13 seasons away from the series. The race at St. Pete was a bit of a struggle for me last year, especially since I had never been on the ‘red’ Firestone tires until the race started, and it took some adjusting. Toward the end of the year, though, we were really competitive, leading laps and running at the front of the field. With that year under my belt I really think we can get the season started strong at St. Pete. The No. 2 Verizon Chevy has been solid in our preseason testing and with a couple more days on track before we get to St. Pete we should be able to dial it in even more.”

Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet): “While we would all have loved to race in Brazil this year, there is something cool about keeping the tradition of opening the Verizon IndyCar Series season in St. Pete. This is a track that has been very good to Team Penske, and to me personally. Even though we are introducing new aero kits to the series this year, I think you will see Team Penske and Chevrolet at the front of the field when the laps are winding down in the race. I have been encouraged with the speed in the No. 3 Hitachi Chevy during our testing over the last couple of weeks. Team Penske is always strong in qualifying at St. Pete as well. If we can get a good starting spot I believe we can keep the car up front all day and challenge for the win. A fourth win at St. Pete would be awesome. And then, who knows, maybe a fourth win in another race later on in the season at Indianapolis.”

Stefano Coletti (No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “I am really excited to start the championship and the challenge of learning all the new tracks. I have done a few tests now with KV Racing Technology and gathered some valuable data, which I’m looking forward to being able to use this weekend at St. Petersburg. I have been able to watch some past races, so I have an idea of what the track will be like and especially what to expect in Turn 1, which looks extremely tight. Having such an experienced teammate as (Sebastien) Bourdais has been really helpful and we work well together, so I am looking forward to having a great first season to my Indy car career.”

James Hinchcliffe (No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda): “St. Pete is like the first day of school, providing that you like school, that is. I love going there. The race is awesome, the track is fun and it’s a place that I’ve always run well at. It’s been nice getting back in the cars to go testing but I think the whole Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team just wants to get back to racing and see what we can do in the Arrow car. It can’t come soon enough.”

James Jakes (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “I’m very excited about starting the season in St. Pete this weekend, and really looking forward to driving the No. 7 MediaTech SPM Honda around there. We’ve had a busy few weeks leading up to the race and hopefully everything we’ve learned will benefit us for the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener. We’re looking to start the season strong so that we have a good baseline for 2015.”

Sage Karam (No. 8 GE LED Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “I can’t tell you how excited I am to get the season started. When I signed as a development driver with the team last year, I was able to get in and help out the IMSA team, but now it’s time to get the INDYCAR season started. St. Pete is a track I’ve had success on before in the ladder series and I’m ready to go. We’ve been testing a lot the past few months and I’ve really been trying hard to absorb everything I’ve learned from my teammates and our driver coach Dario Franchitti. I can’t wait to get the GE LED car out for practice and start working on the car with my team and my engineer Eric Cowdin. It’s a dream come true to be racing for Chip and this team and I’m going to be ready to go.”

Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “St. Petersburg is one of the best places to kick off the season. It’s around spring break time, they do a fantastic job of getting the community in and obviously the party atmosphere there too with different things going on during the day. All the different classes of cars that race there and all the variety of things to do in St. Pete make it pretty fantastic for a lot of people. I live in Indianapolis and we finally get to have some sun and get hang out in some warm weather. The track itself is always fantastic racing with big braking zones going into Turn 1. It’s also very wide, great for starts, restarts and overtaking throughout the race. I think it’s definitely been some great racing over the years and this year I expect the same. I haven’t won there either, so I need to work on that one. I’ve had three or four podiums but have never won.”

Tony Kanaan (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “It’s been a lot of fun getting to know the new Chevy aero kits over the last month, but I think it’s safe to say that I’m ready to get back on track for the season opener in St. Petersburg this weekend. I’m loving my new colors representing NTT DATA this season and it’s been a seamless transition working with my new lead engineer Todd Malloy. I think everyone at NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing is just excited to get out there to start the new season and really see what these new cars can do.” 

Sebastien Bourdais (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Chevrolet): “I am looking forward to the start of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season. We have had a long time off and it will be good to be back racing in the No. 11 Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Chevrolet car. We have had some good tests during the offseason and collected some valuable data, but you never know how you stack up until you are on the track when it counts. I wish we would have had more time with the new aero kits, but it is the same for everyone.” (About racing in his adopted hometown of St. Petersburg): “St. Petersburg is my home race, but unfortunately, other than a pole in my first race (2003), I haven’t really had the success I would have liked. We had a good race going last year and I think we were in a position to finish in the top four or five, but things just didn’t go our way. I don’t feel any additional pressure to do well in St. Petersburg…but it’s nice to be able to sleep in my own bed and have friends and family at the track.”

Takuma Sato (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “I just naturally feel good about St. Pete. In 2013, the tire’s characteristic was quite different from the previous year but we were able to find a good balance very quickly and that was why we were quick. Last year, it was a tricky condition from damp track to drying for every segment of qualifying but I was able to commit every timed lap, so it was a quite special moment when we got the pole. Hopefully we can repeat another front-row start.”

Graham Rahal (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “I’m excited to race again in St. Petersburg. For me, St. Pete has always been one of the best tracks, one of the best places we go all year, a place that I just love. Because of the fact that I got my first win and my first pole there, it has always had a sweet spot in my heart. The town has always embraced the racing and I’ve enjoyed that. More than anything, I’m ready to just get this season going. It’s such a long offseason that I feel like we’re kind of behind. The team has been doing such a great job and I’m just thrilled to get this thing going. I think it’s going to be a great year. I’m excited and ready to go. St. Pete is going to be interesting because it will be our first hard run with the new aero kits. The car seems to be handling everything pretty well. Durability seems to be pretty good. At the end of the day, I think everybody is ready to get to St. Pete. Honda is ready to perform and I think we can lead the charge for them and hopefully do a great job. It’s going to be tough, tricky to see how this all plays out. We’re going to have to be very cautious of contact and make sure that we are staying clean and sharp. All in all, I’m really excited to get going.”

Luca Filippi (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “We are all very excited for St. Pete. It will be my first race with CFH Racing and I really can’t wait to get there. Obviously, it’s been a long winter for everyone, but it’s good that we had an opportunity to test the car with the old package and the new aero kit. I think Chevy has done a great job and we are really looking forward to seeing where we are. I think we are going to be competitive and the entire team is really excited about it.”

Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet): “To say that I’m ready to get to St. Pete would be a huge understatement. I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve ready to go with my new No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevy team. Making the move to Team Penske has been everything I thought it would be. The resources available to us are second to none, but I also feel that both (engineer) Ben (Bretzman) and I can contribute a lot to the team as well. We’ve already been quite busy with testing over the last few weeks, trying to really hone in on the new Chevrolet aero kit. Chevy did an amazing job with it and we will continue to improve as the season goes along. I have to say, though, that it is really an honor to have Team Penske start a fourth team for me, something that has never been done in team history. That gives me a lot of confidence to go out and do my job, which is to win races and compete for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship.”

Simona de Silvestro (No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda): “I’m really looking forward to St. Pete. It’s a place I’ve always done pretty well, and I really enjoy the track, the atmosphere. It’s the first race of the season, so it’s always really exciting, and especially for me, I’m going there after a year away from INDYCAR… It’s going to be great; especially with Andretti Autosport – it’s going to be a new challenge but I can’t wait to start the season with them. Hopefully we’ll get a good result, and I think we’ll do that.”

Carlos Muñoz (No. 26 AndrettiTV/Cinsay Honda): “These three days of testing (at Sebring International Raceway) are only going to help us going into St. Petersburg. We have a little more work to do, but I think we are going to be right there when we arrive to St. Pete. I’m really looking forward to this weekend; this is the start of my second Verizon IndyCar Series season and I like the St. Pete track a lot. I have been fast in the past there, and last year I did quite a good job qualifying (seventh). There are a lot of cars running today in Sebring, so we are going to have a good reference for the race weekend ahead.”

Marco Andretti (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “I can’t wait to be back in race conditions this weekend. As always, St. Pete will be a great setting to start the season and I’m excited to see where things ultimately shake out with the new aero kits.” 

Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda): “It’s a new era in INDYCAR with the introduction of the aero kits and I’m really looking forward to the season opener on the streets of St. Pete. We’re still developing the new package and will be for quite some time, but the DHL team is focused on the challenge ahead. We’ve been on the St. Pete podium too many times in the past without a win, now we have our sights set on a victory and starting the 2015 season the best way possible.”

Jack Hawksworth (No. 41 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “The (St. Pete) track is a lot of fun and pretty technical, especially the middle sector. It’s a track I have won at twice in Pro Mazda and in Indy Lights so it has always been good to me. Couple that with the great weather and it’s certainly one of my favorite events. I also lived in St. Pete during my first year in the States, so I know the city quite well and really enjoy going back there. It’s a great place to kick off the season.”

Josef Newgarden (No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet): “I am really excited to get to St. Pete with the whole team. We’ve had a great winter getting to know one another. It’s been a really good marriage between two fantastic groups (Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing). Chevy seems to have brought us a great package with their new aero kit. It’s been fun developing that and working with Luca (Filippi) to try to figure out what we need to win races. I feel that CFH Racing is as prepared as we can be rolling into the first round of the season. We’re obviously looking to start it off right and score good points. I think starting off on a high note and taking care of the equipment is the priority. Hopefully that will snowball into more success throughout the entire year.”

Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “After a long offseason and some productive test days these past few weeks, I think we’re all more than ready to take the green flag on Sunday. The entire Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team has been working really hard over the winter in preparation of the new Team Chevy aero kits. Now that we’ve had on-track time, it’s about soaking up as much as we can to make small gains here and there that add up to big results. We’ll be looking to have the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car on the podium this weekend to get the momentum going. I can’t wait to see how things shake out once we’re in a real race setting at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg; I think the fans are in for a treat this season.”

Gabby Chaves (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda): “We have been making progress every time we get on track and I expect nothing less heading into the race weekend. It is an incredible opportunity that I have here and I will do all I can to get the results we want and deserve. It will be a steep learning curve for me as a rookie but I have a great team around me that will help me with that process. I have complete confidence in them to get us to our true potential.”

ESPN Player Expands INDYCAR’s International Live, On-Demand Coverage

  • All 16 races, including the Indianapolis 500, will be broadcast live on ESPN’s online streaming service for fans across Europe, the Middle East and Africa
  • All qualifying sessions, race highlights and Indy Lights races available on-demand

ESPN Player will bring fans across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (excluding the UK, France, Italy and South Africa) live and on-demand coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series season as a new channel on the digital subscription service.

The eagerly-anticipated first race of the Verizon IndyCar Series will be held on March 29in St. Petersburg, Fla. The race schedule includes challenging, technical road and street courses, short ovals and superspeedways that are sure to provide another gripping campaign of competitive racing. The showpiece event on the race calendar, the world renowned Indianapolis 500, is also part of the package available for racing fans across the EMEA region. The full race schedule can be found here.

Last year, Will Power of Team Penske earned his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship in a memorable season which featured a record-equaling 11 different race winners. French driver Simon Pagenaud, Brazilian Helio Castroneves and New Zealander Scott Dixon are amongst the pack who will hope to challenge Power again this year. Other drivers include former F1 stars Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais and Takuma Sato. The champion of the Verizon IndyCar Series has been decided by the outcome of the final race for the past nine seasons – viewers can expect it to be just as tight this year. ESPN Player users can enjoy comprehensive coverage of all 16 races.

Charly Classen, vice president and general manager, ESPN – Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “The Verizon IndyCar Series is a fantastic addition to the portfolio of sports content available to fans across the region. ESPN Player embodies our ethos of serving sports fans anytime, anywhere by providing extensive coverage live and on-demand, on multiple devices. 2015 will be a great year of sport as we look to deliver fans more content than ever before on ESPN Player.”

Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said: “ESPN Player is a positive step forward to both the digital and international distribution of Verizon IndyCar Series events. The increase in both live and on-demand coverage will be valuable in showcasing the INDYCAR brand and the excitement of our on-track product to fans across the world.”

Subscribers will also be able to take advantage of ESPN Player’s on-demand service to watch all the qualifying action before tuning in to watch the resulting race live. There will also be on-demand coverage of Indy Lights, the developmental racing series which has been known to play host to exciting talent staking a claim to make the step up to the Verizon IndyCar Series. Fans can also catch up on all previous races with comprehensive highlight packages available on demand.

The channel is one of several new additions to the ESPN Player platform, which is now offering sports fans across the EMEA region more content than ever before. ESPN Player is available on Mac, PC, iPad, LG and Samsung Smart TVs, with high quality streaming on all devices.

Packages include an INDYCAR race pass, INDYCAR Month pass and INDYCAR Season pass. For all pricing and other information please visit

About ESPN Player

ESPN Player , ESPN’s broadband platform in Europe, provides sports fans with live and on-demand sports action from the US and Europe online. It joins ESPN’s growing digital portfolio in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which includes the online and mobile websites, ESPNFC, and the UK-focused sports portal

ESPN Player features more than 3,000 live events and thousands of hours of live and on-demand sport, including but not limited to:

  • US College Football:  Hundreds of games from the university gridiron of the US, including regular season, Bowl Games and College Football Playoff;
  • US College Basketball:  Hundreds of games from the hard courts of the USA’s top universities, including the regular season, Championship Week and March Madness
  • US College Lacrosse, Baseball, Softball, Ice Hockey, Soccer, Volleyball and more
  • X Games
  • World Series of Poker

Now featuring the following new channels:

  • Verizon IndyCar Series
  • British Touring Car Championship
  • Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC)
  • BAMMA (British Association of Mixed Martial Arts)

ESPN Player is available on Mac, PC, iPad, LG and Samsung Smart TVs, with high quality streaming on all devices. With so many dedicated feeds users can watch two different feeds simultaneously using two devices.  Subscriptions to ESPN Player are available in various lengths, dependent on the channel.



Verizon IndyCar Series Headlines:

1. INDYCAR increases teams’ Leaders Circle payout to $1.25 million for 2015
2. Dixon would join elite company with 12 Hours of Sebring victory
3. Allison Transmissions marks centennial with CFH Racing at IMS

4. Castrol EDGE returns as Bryan Herta Autosport associate sponsor
5. Of note:

  • Local company supports Andretti
  • Karam, Kimball to attend IMS Night with Indiana Pacers
  • Ganassi adds Global Rallycross team

1. INDYCAR increases teams’ Leaders Circle payout to $1.25 million for 2015: INDYCAR announced today an increase of $250,000 to its Leaders Circle program, which raises the total annual payment for eligible Verizon IndyCar Series entrants to $1.25 million.

A total of 21 entrants are entered in the Leaders Circle program for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“INDYCAR is invested in the continued support of its teams,” said Derrick Walker, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations. “The Leaders Circle program rewards INDYCAR teams for full-season participation and helps each of them with an additional source of funding. The program is also an asset to our promoters as it guarantees over 20 cars at each Verizon IndyCar Series event. As INDYCAR continues to grow we’re excited about opportunities like this that are beneficial to the teams that compete in our series.”

The Leaders Circle program was established in 2002 to provide incentives to teams that participate full time in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Each Leaders Circle member is assured a minimum of $1.25 million if the entrant successfully qualifies for all of the 16 Verizon IndyCar Series events in 2015, including the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Twenty-one entrants were selected based on final 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series final entrant points.

All Leaders Circle entrants will continue to compete for bonuses that will now be paid to the top-12 finishers – an increase of two positions compared to 2014 – at each Verizon IndyCar Series race aside from the Indianapolis 500. Non-Leaders Circle entrants also will compete for payouts awarded to the top-three finishers in each race excluding the Indianapolis 500.

The Verizon IndyCar Series driver champion and championship entrant again will share a $1 million bonus, with second through 10th in the standings sharing bonuses totaling $320,000. The recipient of the Verizon IndyCar Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award will receive a $50,000 bonus.

Contingency awards will continue to be presented at all Verizon IndyCar Series events. Read the full story.

2. Dixon would join elite company with 12 Hours of Sebring victory: Three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon can join an elite group of competitors by driving to victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring this weekend.

Dixon co-drove the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Prototype with Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray to the overall victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. Only eight times have drivers won at Daytona International Speedway and Sebring International Raceway in the same year.

Indy car racing luminaries A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and Lloyd Ruby are on that list.

This weekend, Dixon will join full-season drivers Scott Pruett and Joey Hand in the No. 01 entry.

“Sebring is one of those iconic motor races in the world and I think we’ll have a good chance,” said Dixon, who also won the 24-hour race in 2006. “I’m looking forward to working with Scott and Joey again.”

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ entry won the 2014 12 Hours of Sebring with drivers Marino Franchitti, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.

Also in the Prototype class, Sebastien Bourdais returns to co-drive the No. 5 Action Express Racing and Justin Wilson will co-drive the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian entry. Both are former overall winners of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Simon Pagenaud, who earned a podium finish in the 24-hour race in January, returns to co-drive the No. 4 GT Le Mans class entry for Corvette Racing.

For more on drivers participating in the endurance race, visit

3. Allison Transmissions marks centennial with CFH Racing at IMS: Allison Transmissions will celebrate its centennial in part by being an associate sponsor on the No. 20 CFH Racing car driven by Luca Filippi in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9 and by Ed Carpenter in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 24.

Allison traces its corporate lineage to the founding of the Indianapolis Speedway Team Co. on Sept. 14, 1915.

As a co-founder of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and part-owner of several racing teams, James A. Allison established a precision machine shop and experimental firm on Main Street in Speedway called the Allison Experimental Co. to support his racing endeavors. As a race team owner, Allison won the 1919 Indianapolis with driver Howdy Wilcox.

“We’re honored that Allison Transmission chose to celebrate their centennial with CFH Racing,” said Carpenter, a team co-owner. “In addition to producing world-class products, they are great neighbors and supporters of the community.”

4. Castrol EDGE returns as Bryan Herta Autosport associate sponsor: Bryan Herta Autosport announced that Castrol EDGE has extended its associate partnership with the team for the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“We are very pleased to continue our association with the Castrol EDGE brand, which includes promotion of Castrol EDGE to customers in our great new car dealer network,” team owner Bryan Herta said. “With Castrol’s support, 2015 is shaping up to be our best yet.”

Gabby Chaves, the 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion, will drive the No. 98 Honda in the 16-race season.

“Castrol EDGE is our most advanced motor oil, providing superior motor oil strength for engines that work harder due to higher engine pressures, helping vehicles to maximize performance, ” said Dan Hanson, Castrol’s OEM workshops director. “Our partnership with Bryan Herta Autosport gives us a tremendous platform to showcase that performance and to connect with IndyCar fans.”

Click here to read more about the partnership.

5. Of note:
Local company supports Andretti: Indianapolis-based Delivra has joined Andretti Autosport as its official provider of email marketing. … Karam, Kimball to attend IMS Night with Indiana Pacers: Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam will sign autographs and participate in activities March 21 as Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts IMS Night with the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The first 4,000 attendees will receive a co-branded Pacers/Wing & Wheel window flag, distributed by the 500 Festival Princesses. … Ganassi adds Global Rallycross team: Chip Ganassi Racing is expanding into Global Rallycross with two entries.

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