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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)


Carlin Teammates Jones, Chilton Lead the Way with New Indy Lights Dallara IL-15

All Three Levels of the Mazda Road to Indy See Action on the St. Petersburg Streets

St. Petersburg, Fla. (March 27) – Ed Jones and Max Chilton led the way for European powerhouse open-wheel team Carlin as the Dallara IL-15 and turbocharged 2.0-liter Mazda MZR-R engines made their official track debut today with a pair of practice sessions for this weekend’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season-opening Mazda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Peninsula Pipeline.

Jones was fastest in this morning’s opening practice session with a time of 1:07.1401 (average speed 96.515 mph), which was already faster than the existing race lap record of 1:07.2141 set by Sebastian Saavedra in 2009. A heavy rain shower precluded any activity in the scheduled afternoon session, so Jones’ morning time remained as the fastest.

“The car is great to drive, especially through some of the fast corners,” said Jones. “It’s been a great experience. Carlin has done a very good job with the setup of the car. Obviously, it was a guessing game this morning, since we haven’t been to this track before and so many of the other teams have. And it’s been a matter of building myself up; I struggled a bit at the beginning of the session but it got better and better. I’m really looking forward to the dry weather and finally racing the car.”

Carlin teammate Max Chilton, who raced for the past two years in Formula 1 and is helping the team with its initial foray to North America – with eyes fixed firmly on the Verizon IndyCar Series in the future – set the second fastest time at 1:07.4733.

“It’s a very good stepping stone into IndyCar and I hope I’ll get to drive an Indy car one day,” said Chilton. “It’s been a successful, albeit short day for us, as I was P1 for much of the session until Ed pipped me at the end. We’ve been at the top of the charts at most of the tests. The hard work starts tomorrow by getting a good qualifying position for the race, since it’s not particularly easy to overtake on a street circuit. I think either of us can go for the win but I’m going to try my hardest to get that.”

Fellow series newcomers Scott Hargrove, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, and his Florida-based 8Star Motorsports team, turned the third fastest time at 1:07.5363, followed by Colombian Juan Piedrahita, who has joined defending champion team Belardi Auto Racing for his sophomore Indy Lights season and Matthew Brabham, with Andretti Autosport. Brabham, who became the first driver to win consecutive MAZDASPEED scholarships after winning the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda in 2012 and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2013, finished fourth in his rookie season of Indy Lights in 2014.

“The Dallara IL-15 really is a fantastic car to drive,” said Hargrove. “It was a great start to the weekend to finish P3 this morning. The 8Star car was phenomenal right out of the gate. For me to be P3 not having tested since January is a great start. I’ve raced in St. Pete for four years now and each year it gets bigger and better.”

The Indy Lights cars will return to the track for qualifying tomorrow morning, March 28, at 9:30 am ET. The green flag for the first of two races will fly at 2:25 pm.

French Pair Buret and Latorre Fastest in Pro Mazda
French rookie drivers Timothe Buret and Florian Latorre topped the timing charts today during practice for the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will comprise the first two rounds of the 2015 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

Buret, 19, from Montpellier, France, was fastest in this morning’s opening practice session with a time of 1:12.6605 (89.182 mph) on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn downtown street circuit, driving for defending champion team Juncos Racing. Californian Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), who finished third in the 2014 title-chase, was just 0.1339s slower, followed by Malaysian Weiron Tan (Andretti Autosport) and Canadian Garett Grist (Juncos Racing).

This afternoon’s second half-hour session was held on a damp track, so times were slightly slower. Latorre, who won last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, as well as a MAZDASPEED scholarship to graduate into Pro Mazda, led the way with a 1:13.6933 lap in a second Cape Motorsports entry, followed by Englishman Raoul Owens (JDC MotorSports) and Canadian Dalton Kellett (Andretti Autosport).

Qualifying for the first of two Pro Mazda races will take place tomorrow morning at 8:45 am ET, followed by the first race at 1:30 pm ET.

Jake Eidson Heads the USF2000 Time Charts for Pabst Racing
Americans Jake Eidson and Aaron Telitz led the way after two practice sessions for the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will constitute the opening two rounds of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Eidson, 19, who splits his time between Littleton, Colo., and Destin, Fla., was fastest in both sessions for Pabst Racing, turning a best lap of 1:14.9865 (86.416 mph) in the afternoon session which was interrupted by a rain shower.

Aaron Telitz, from Birchwood, Wis., was just over a tenth of a second slower for St. Petersburg-based Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.

USF2000 cars will begin the track activities tomorrow (Saturday, March 28) with a half-hour qualifying session starting at 8:00 am. The first race will start a little later in the morning at 10:15.

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.”

Mazda Road to Indy App Launches at Season-Opener

PALMETTO, Fla. – On the verge of the 2015 INDYCAR season-opening races on the streets of St. Petersburg this week, Mazda Road to Indy TV today rolled out the “Official App” for the three series comprising the ladder system to the Verizon IndyCar Series – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Available as a free download at the App Store (iPhones) and Google Play (Android) for mobile phones and tablets, the Mazda Road to Indy App (listed under Road To Indy TV) will feature “one stop shopping” for fans with live timing, live track feed commentary from Rob Howden – voice of the Mazda Road to Indy (@RobHowden), social media, on-board videos, photos, episodes of RoadToIndy.TV – which takes viewers behind-the-scenes and will unveil a new programming format in 2015 – and more including an interactive race schedule which sends notifications when a race is starting.

“We are thrilled to unveil the Mazda Road to Indy app and give fans a new type of access to our series,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “It is a great complement to the Cooper Tires Hashtag Campaign [#TeamCooperTire and #MRTI] which helps our drivers tell their story, while connecting to and rewarding fans. Our goal is to assist our teams and drivers in gaining as much exposure as possible as they make their way up the ladder, and the new App and RoadToIndy.TV shows are great ways to showcase the talent in our series.”

The app was created by the Road to Indy TV team with JP Manterola, Creative Director, heading the project. Along with its current features, the app will continue to be developed with Cooper Tires throughout the season with additional features such as driver highlights and team profiles.

“Our goal was to give fans unlimited free access to follow the Mazda Road to Indy,” said Manterola. “It was a logical step to develop a Mobile App for easy access to our series no matter where you are located. Before you had to do everything from your laptop on different tabs. Now, it’s simple. You click a button on your mobile phone and have all the information you want to support your favorite drivers, teams and the series itself.”

All three ladder series will be in action this weekend at St. Petersburg with double-header rounds in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series on March 28/29.

New Indy Lights Car Debut Highlights Mazda Road to Indy Openers at St. Petersburg

PALMETTO, Fla. – The future stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series will display their talents this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., as all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder will commence their 2015 seasons. The race weekend also will mark the debut of the exciting new Dallara IL-15, powered by a 450 HP, 2.0-liter turbocharged Mazda MZR-R engine, heralding the dawn of a new era for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

The Mazda Road to Indy is unique in the world of auto racing, offering scholarships at every stage to assist talented drivers in their progression from karting and the grassroots of the sport through the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires as they aspire to compete in the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

Competitors in all three series will contest a pair of races on the challenging 1.8-mile, downtown street circuit. As part of the learning experience, drivers will benefit from a Mazda Road to Indy “Summit” on Thursday before the start of on-track activities, which will include a media training seminar hosted by veteran broadcaster Bob Varsha.

Englishman Harvey Leads Strong Field into a New Era of Indy Lights
As the final step on the ladder toward the pinnacle of open-wheel racing in North America, Indy Lights can trace its roots back to 1986 and the launch of what was originally called the American Racing Series. Former series champions Paul Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Cristiano da Matta and Scott Dixon have all gone on to win IndyCar titles, and three of the past four champions – Josef Newgarden (2011), Sage Karam (2013) and Gabby Chaves (2014) – have their sights set firmly on emulating that feat as they take to the grid for this weekend’s IndyCar season-opener.

The Mazda-powered new Dallara IL-15 has drawn excellent reviews during its development process and off-season testing, and has attracted a high-quality entry from around the world for its official race debut at the Mazda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Peninsula Pipeline. The weekend will comprise a 40-minute “sprint” race starting at 2:25 pm ET on Saturday, March 28, and a 60-minute “feature” for which the green flag will fly at 11:45 am on Sunday, March 29.

Englishman Jack Harvey will start as one of the preseason favorites after finishing tied on points with last year’s champion, Chaves, in his rookie campaign in North America. Harvey only lost the title on a count-back of second-place finishes. The former British Formula 3 champion will remain with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian which has won four of the last five Indy Lights crowns.

Opposition will stem from multiple sources, including series veteran Matthew Brabham, the winner of consecutive USF2000 and Pro Mazda championship crowns in 2012 and 2013, with Andretti Autosport, and Briton Max Chilton, who has raced in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship the past two years and is looking to assist European open-wheel powerhouse team Carlin in its preparations for a future assault on the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Carlin teammate and 2013 European F3 Open champion Ed Jones also has shone in preseason testing, as have 2014 Pro Mazda champion Spencer Pigot, from Orlando, Fla., Juncos Racing teammate Kyle Kaiser and 2013 USF2000 champion Scott Hargrove, who finished a close second to Pigot in the 2014 Pro Mazda title-chase and has joined accomplished sports car team 8Star Motorsports. Potential front-runners also include 18-year-old RC Enerson (Schmidt Peterson), from nearby New Port Richey, Fla., who took second in the 2014 USF2000 championship, winning a series-high five races, including one in St. Petersburg, USF2000 and Pro Mazda veteran Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport) and Puerto Rico’s Felix Serralles, who has returned to North America after a successful foray in Europe to join defending champion team Belardi Auto Racing.

In addition to live timing and commentary on the series website – – the race will be carried live on the IMS Radio Network to Sirius XM Satellite Radio,, and the INDYCAR app from Verizon. Practice and qualifying will also be streamed on the INDYCAR YouTube channel and The race will air on NBCSN on Sunday, April 5 at 4:30 pm ET. Behind-the-scenes action on all three series can be found at RoadToIndy.TV.

Mazda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Peninsula Pipeline Entry List
Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida – March 27-29 – Rounds 1/2 As of March 20, 2015
1.8-mile 14-turn street circuit

Track Records:
Qualifying – J.K. Vernay 1:06.3497 = 97.664 mph March 27, 2010
Race – Sebastian Saavedra 1:07.2141 = 96.408 mph April 5, 2009

No. Driver Hometown Residence Team Entry
1. 4 Felix Serralles (R) Ponce, Puerto Rico Atlanta, GA Belardi Auto Racing TBA
2. 5 Juan Piedrahita Bogota, Colombia Indianapolis, IN Belardi Auto Racing Petrosur/Marca Colombia/Coldeportes/FCAD
3. 7 RC Enerson (R) New Port Richey, FL New Port Richey, FL Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Lucas Oil/Curb Records w/Curb-Agajanian
4. 8 Scott Hargrove (R) Vancouver, BC, Canada Surrey, BC, Canada 8Star Motorsports BC Pit Crew
5. 11 Ed Jones (R) Dubai, UAE Dubai, UAE Carlin Toys for Boys Miami/United Rivers
6. 12 Spencer Pigot (R) Orlando, FL Indianapolis, IN Juncos Racing Mazda/Doug Mockett & Company/Rising Star Racing/The Stutz/BAD/OMP
7. 14 Max Chilton (R) Reigate, Surrey, England Reigate, Surrey, England Carlin BlippAR
8. 18 Kyle Kaiser (R) Santa Clara, CA Santa Clara, CA Juncos Racing InterVision/NetApp/Juniper Networks
9. 42 Jack Harvey Lincoln, England Lincoln, England Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Racing Steps Foundation/Curb Records w/Curb-Agajanian
10. 51 Shelby Blackstock (R) Nashville, TN Cornelius, NC Andretti Autosport Starstruck
11. 71 Ethan Ringel (R) Mineola, NY Orlando, FL Schmidt Peterson Motorsports w/Curb-Agajanian
12. 77 Scott Anderson Fort Collins, CO Fort Collins, CO Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Anderson Podiatry Centers/Laser Therapy, w/Curb-Agajanian Surgery and Neuropathy/Curb Records
13. 83 Matthew Brabham Boca Raton, FL Indianapolis, IN Andretti Autosport Mazda

Local Teams Highlight Pro Mazda Field
An impressive mix of accomplished veterans and impressive rookies characterize a strong 18-car entry for this weekend’s pair of Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires races which will comprise the Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Local race fans will have plenty of favorites from which to choose, with two of the more prominent teams, Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing and Team Pelfrey, based within a few miles of the downtown street circuit.

St. Petersburg-based Cape Motorsports, run by brothers Dominic and Nicholas Cape, will field three cars for Californian Neil Alberico, who recorded four podium finishes en route to third place in the championship standings during his rookie campaign in 2014; Frenchman Florian Latorre, who is stepping up to Pro Mazda after winning last year’s USF2000 championship and claiming a MAZDASPEED Driver Development Scholarship; and Canadian Daniel Burkett, who dominated the 2014 Atlantic Championship Series in addition to earning several top-five finishes in USF2000.

Team Pelfrey will make the short trip from its base in Palmetto with a pair of cars for Mexico’s Patricio “Pato” O’Ward and Uruguay’s Santiago “Santi” Urrutia. O’Ward is the youngest driver in the field at age 15 but impressed last year by winning a round of the French F4 Championship during a partial campaign, then proving fastest of all in a Mazda Road to Indy test on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Other potent protagonists will include Juncos Racing, Andretti Autosport and JDC MotorSports. The lineup for last year’s championship-winning team, Juncos Racing, will include 2014 race winners Garett Grist, from Grimsby, Ont., Canada and Jose Gutierrez, from Monterrey, Mexico, as well as promising rookies Will Owen, from Castle Rock, Colo., a USF2000 race winner last year, and Frenchman Timothé Buret. The Andretti Autosport challenge will stem from Malaysian Weiron Tan, who recently won two Cooper Tires Winterfest preseason races, and Canadian Dalton Kellett, while JDC’s stable will include Kyle Connery, from Vero Beach, Fla., Englishman Raoul Owens and the inspirational Michael Johnson, 22, from Flint, Mich., who drives a car equipped with hand controls after being paralyzed following a motorcycle racing accident at age 12.

The first of two races for the Allied Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will start at 1:30 pm ET on Saturday. The green flag for Race Two will fly at 9:50 am on Sunday, March 29. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available at

Allied Building Products Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Entry List
Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida – March 27-29 – Rounds 1/2 As of March 24, 2015
1.8-mile 14-turn street circuit
Track Records:
Qualifying – Conor Daly 1:10.352 = 92.108 mph March 27, 2010
Race – Jack Hawksworth 1:11.439 = 90.707 mph March 24, 2012
No. Driver Hometown Residence Team Sponsors
1. 2 Daniel Burkett (R) Winnipeg, Man., Canada Winnipeg, Man., Canada Cape Motorsports w/WTR Granite Financial Group Inc.
2. 3 Neil Alberico Los Gatos, CA Redlands, CA Cape Motorsports w/WTR Rising Star Racing/Mobe
3. 5 Garett Grist Grimsby, Ont., Canada Grimsby, Ont., Canada Juncos Racing Lander Property Management
4. 6 Timothé Buret (R) Montpellier, France Indianapolis, IN Juncos Racing Broadsign/TRAXX.FM/Driving Koncept
5. 7 Jose Gutierrez Monterrey, Mexico Monterrey, Mexico Juncos Racing Prisma
6. 10 Florian Latorre (R) Libourne, France Auriolles, France Cape Motorsports w/WTR du Sud-Ouest/ COGNY/LATORRE Menuiserie/VISEZ/K1
7. 13 Bobby Eberle* Chicago, IL Houston, TX World Speed Motorsports
8. 14 Alessandro Latif (R) London, England London, England World Speed Motorsports Corthay
9. 19 Raoul Owens (R) Pembrey, England Boston, MA JDC MotorSports Brightspark Ventures
10. 22 Weiron Tan (R) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Houston, TX Andretti Autosport Weiron Tan Andretti Autosport
11. 23 Will Owen (R) Plano, TX Castle Rock, CO Juncos Racing AMR
12. 26 Parker Nicklin (R) Las Vegas, NV Indianapolis, IN JDC MotorSports Just Let It Ring/Nicklin Property Management/ OMG Media Solutions
13. 28 Dalton Kellett Toronto, Ont., Canada Indianapolis, IN Andretti Autosport K-Line Insulators USA, Inc.
14. 37 Jay Horak Wausau, WI Mesa, AZ M1 Racing AutoEnginuity
15. 54 Michael Johnson Flint, MI Flint, MI JDC MotorSports Universal Coating Inc./BraunAbility
16. 81 Santiago Urrutia (R) Miguelete, Uruguay Miguelete, Uruguay Team Pelfrey Ancap/BSE/Antel/Corporacion de Maquinaria/AgroLavalle/Fadisol
17. 82 Pato O’Ward (R) Monterrey, Mexico San Antonio, TX Team Pelfrey Octane Energy Drink
18. 91 Kyle Connery Stuart, FL Vero Beach, FL JDC MotorSports Hi-Tide Boat Lifts/Connery Concrete
*Expert Class
R = Series Rookie

Representatives from 10 Nations and Six States Among Global USF2000 Entry
The international appeal of the Mazda Road to Indy is exemplified by the entry list for the first two races of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season as drivers from six different states and no fewer than 10 nationalities will battle for honors at the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Picking the likely winners is no easy task, although leading contenders will surely include a pair of talented young Americans, Jake Eidson and Aaron Telitz, along with Frenchman Nico Jamin and Brazilian Victor Franzoni.

Jamin, who hopes to follow in the footsteps of countryman Florian Latorre by winning a MAZDASPEED Scholarship and an opportunity to graduate to Pro Mazda in 2016, has already laid out his credentials by winning the recent five-race Cooper Tires USF2000 Winterfest. The 19-year-old from Rouen, France, is hoping to buck the trend and become the first driver in the five-year history of the Winterfest also to take top honors in the “regular season” championship. His team, Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, is seeking to extend its remarkable streak of four consecutive championships with Petri Suvanto (2011), Matthew Brabham (2012), Scott Hargrove (2013) and Florian Latorre (2014).

Jamin will be joined at the St. Petersburg-based team by Wisconsin native Telitz, who claimed USF2000 Rookie of the Year honors in 2014.

Eidson, who finished third in USF2000 points during his rookie season, and Franzoni also enjoyed success at the Winterfest. Eidson, from Littleton, Colo., won twice for Pabst Racing and only lost the title due to an obscure mechanical failure in the final race, while Franzoni, who placed fifth in the 2014 title-chase, also notched two wins for Afterburner Autosport.

Other young chargers include Jordan Lloyd, who hails from the same small town in Queensland, Australia, as defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power, and countryman Anthony Martin, who will both drive for the team run by veteran IndyCar crew chief/team manager John Cummiskey. Another youngster from Western Australia, Luke Gabin, who will celebrate his 20th birthday on Friday, will carry the distinctive Soul Red MAZDASPEED scholarship livery on his Team Pelfrey Van Diemen-Mazda as a result of winning last year’s Skip Barber Racing Championship Shootout.

Gabin is joined at the Palmetto, Fla.-based Team Pelfrey by Norwegian Ayla Agren, who displayed her speed by winning last year’s F1600 Championship Series, Los Angeles-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin and Mechanicsburg, Pa.’s Garth Rickards. All three have graduated together with Team Pelfrey into USF2000, while the fourth member of that F1600 team, Arizona’s Augie Lerch, also graduates into USF2000 with another Palmetto-based team, JAY Motorsports.

Karting standout Parker Thompson (JDC MotorSports), from Red Deer, Alb., Canada – a protégé of 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice – and the youngest driver in the field, second-year racer and Naples resident Keyvan Andres Soori, from Cologne, Germany, who only celebrated his 15th birthday a couple of weeks ago, also will be worth watching.

The first of two races at the Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place at 10:15 am ET on Saturday, March 27, with Race Two at 8:55 am on Sunday, March 29. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available at

Cooper Tires Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Entry List
Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida – March 27-29 – Rounds 1/2 As of March 8, 2015
1.8-mile 14-turn street circuit
Track Records:
Qualifying – Spencer Pigot 1:13.284 = 88.423 mph March 23, 2012
Race – Matthew Brabham 1:13.064 = 88.689 mph March 24, 2012
No. Driver Hometown Residence Team Sponsors
1. 2 Nico Jamin Rouen, France Coconut Creek, FL Cape Motorsports w/WTR Synova Automotive Eco-Plastics
2. 3 Aaron Telitz Rice Lake, WI Birchwood, WI Cape Motorsports w/WTR Rice Lake Weighing Systems
3. 5 Keyvan Andres Soori Cologne, Germany Miami, FL ArmsUp Motorsports TBA
4. 6 Max Hanratty (R) Hartland, WI Milwaukee, WI ArmsUp Motorsports Juniper Networks/SynerComm Inc.
5. 12 Augie Lerch (R) Tucson, AZ Tucson, AZ JAY Motorsports Shashi/PJ’s Performance/Hi Speed Customs and Rods
6. 16 James Dayson Vancouver, BC, Canada Vancouver, BC, Canada ArmsUp Motorsports Dayhu Group of Companies/AXIUM Capital/Elite Performance
7. 17 Victor Franzoni Sao Paulo, Brazil Sao Paulo, Brazil Afterburner Autosport Novac Sports/XYZ Talents/E-QUAL
8. 22 Jake Eidson Memphis, TN Destin, FL Pabst Racing OMP/Bell Helmets/1st Bank/SafeisFast/Team USA Scholarship
9. 23 Yufeng Luo (R) Beijing, China Los Angeles, CA Pabst Racing TBA
10. 33 Anthony Martin (R) Kalgoorlie, Australia Indianapolis, IN John Cummiskey Racing Burgess BLA
11. 61 Andrew List Rogers, MN Rogers, MN D2D Motorsports D2D Motorsports
12. 79 Santiago Lozano Bogota, Colombia Miami, FL M2 Autosport TBA
13. 80 Parker Thompson (R) Red Deer, Alb., Canada Red Deer, Alb., Canada JDC MotorSports Bell Helmets/OMP/Parker Thompson: Drive to Stay Alive
14. 81 Ayla Agren (R) Oslo, Norway St. Petersburg, FL Team Pelfrey Energima/BVR/Alt I Asfalt/Salming Hockey/ KNA/CoForce/WSF
15. 82 Luke Gabin (R) Perth, Australia Indianapolis, IN Team Pelfrey MAZDASPEED/Skip Barber/Mandurah Panel and Paint/Colbyson
16. 83 Garth Rickards (R) Mechanicsburg, PA Mechanicsburg, PA Team Pelfrey Rahal Automotive Group
17. 84 Nikita Lastochkin (R) Moscow, Russia Los Angeles, CA Team Pelfrey Russkaya Mekhanika
18. 94 Jordan Lloyd (R) Toowoomba, Australia Toowoomba, Australia John Cummiskey Racing TBA
R = Series Rookie

#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.

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