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Old 6 Mar 2018, 23:40 (Ref:3806401)   #1
bjohnsonsmith
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2018 Round 1: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, 9-11 March.

2018 Round 1: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, 9-11 March.

The waiting and the long off season are almost over, as this Sunday's 2018 season opener at St. Pete is nearly upon us.

Three year's ago, saw the introduction of aero-kits from the two engine manufacturers, Chevrolet and Honda. The idea was to produce some visual variation and brand identity for both manufacturers, in what is a spec car. Chevrolet produced the dominant package, winning the Driver's Championship and Manufacturer's Cup from 2015 - 2017, though Honda won the Indy 500 in 2016 and '17.

This year will see the Univeral Aero-Kit make its race debut. A lot of praise has been heaped on the new aero-kit by drivers, teams and fans. For the drivers, the car is more challenging to drive, for teams it is much cheaper and for fans it is visually appealing, with the appearance similar to the cars that raced before the split. Obviously, there is much anticipation and it will be interesting to see if it will live up to its expectations.

This will be the 15th running of the race on the current course and the 14th as an IndyCar race. The event was first held as part of the SCCA Trans-Am Series, on the downtown waterfront circuit, from 1985-1990 but when local residents and businesses complained about the noise it was cancelled. It returned briefly from 1996-1997 on a new course around Tropicana Field. After a second hiatus, the event returned in 2003 but as a Champ Car race, using a modified layout of the original 1985–90 waterfront circuit. In 2004, the event was cancelled due to a dispute between the promoters but returned in 2005, this time as part of the IRL IndyCar Series, making this the first non-oval event for the Indy Racing League.

Some trivia:
The driver with most wins: 3, Hélio Castroneves, 2006, 2007, 2012.
The team with most wins: 9, Team Penske, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016.

Track layout:



Length:
1.8 Miles (2.9 Km)
Turns: 14

Lap record: Will Power, March 12, 2016. 1:00.245, 107.561 Mph (173.102 Km/h). Team Penske, Dallara DW12-Chevrolet IndyCar V6. Verizon IndyCar Series.

Last year's race:
During qualifying, Will Power took his seventh Pole at St Petersburg breaking his own lap record, which he set the previous year. Team Penske repeated 2015's top-four shutout, with all four drivers finishing in exactly the same order as they did in 2015.

The start of the race saw Power take the lead from Pole, as Hinchcliffe passed Dixon for second place. The field made it through Turn 1 but Rahal and Kimball made contact coming through Turn 2, putting Rahal into a spin and sending Kimball towards the wall in Turn 3, where he collected Muñoz. Castroneves, Jones and Aleshin also sustained damage in the incident, bringing out the first full-course yellow.

On lap 5, Hinchcliffe immediately took the lead on the restart, pulling away and extending his lead to over four seconds by lap 12. On lap 14, Power suddenly came into the pits with a puncture, sending him to the back of the field. As he left the pits, he ran over the air hose, incurring a drive-through penalty, which put him further behind Hinchcliffe and moved Dixon into second place.

The first round of green flag pit stops began on lap 20 with a few drivers, including Bourdais and Pagenaud who were further down the field, being some of the first in. However, on lap 26, in the middle of this round of stops, the second full-course yellow came out as Kanaan and Aleshin made contact in Turn 4, littering the track with debris. This forced the top seven placed drivers to pit, losing track position and giving Pagenaud the lead, with Bourdais and Andretti in second and third. Pigot, who was running fifth up until his pit stop, retired when the left-rear brake on his car exploded.

The race resumed on lap 30 with no incidents among the leaders. Further back, Dixon briefly lost acceleration on his car, sending him down the field. In turn 2, Conor Daly and Ryan Hunter-Reay made contact, but were able to avoid significant damage. On lap 37, the lead of the race changed hands again when Bourdais passed Simon Pagenaud in Turn 1, with Bourdais quickly pulling away.

The second round of scheduled stops began on lap 50, with Bourdais and Pagenaud still in first and second respectively. Meanwhile Power moved up to third, though he was off-sequence with the other leaders, due to a combination of his tyre stop, the drive-through penalty and the full course yellow during the first round of stops. With no concerns about saving fuel, Bourdais began to extend his lead even further than on the previous stint. Meanwhile, Dixon began to move back up through field and into seventh place by lap 75.

The last round of green flag stops began on lap 77 without major incident, though Sato had a delayed pit stop after a wheel-gun jammed, causing him to lose a few positions. Bourdais was still in the lead and Dixon continued to climb through the field, emerging from his stop in fourth place. Shortly after the end of the pit-stops, Power dramatically slowed on track with a fuel-feed issue and despite efforts to get it fixed, without bringing the car into the pits, he was black flagged for running too slowly and eventually retired from the race, giving Dixon third place.

Bourdais won and by the end of the race had pulled out a lead of over 10 seconds. Pagenaud was second, with the third podium spot going to Dixon.

Bourdais' victory came after starting in last place and was his first race driving for Dale Coyne Racing since 2011. The win marked his 36th in American Open-Wheel Racing, breaking a tie between himself and Bobby Unser for sixth on the all-time winners list. It was Bourdais' first win since Detroit in 2016 and Dale Coyne Racing's, first since 2014, when Carlos Huertas won Race 1 of The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.

Pole:
Will Power. 1:01.064, 106.12 mph (170.12 Km/h)

Winner:
Sébastien Bourdais,
Dale Coyne Racing,
Dallara DW12-Honda HI17TT

Laps: 110
Distance 198 Miles (318.65 Km)
Race Time 2:04:32
Average Speed 95.391 Mph (153.517 Km/h)
Caution periods: 2
Caution laps: 8

Race Broadcast:
ABC Sunday, March 11. 12:30PM ET.

Last edited by bjohnsonsmith; 7 Mar 2018 at 00:00.
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Old 7 Mar 2018, 00:58 (Ref:3806412)   #2
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Hooray! Race week!

Always enjoy this event and find the track to be a decent Street circuit.

Nice post # as always bjs
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Old 7 Mar 2018, 07:44 (Ref:3806518)   #3
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BudLightJaguar should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridBudLightJaguar should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid

I haven't been very active here during the winter. But now...only 5 days to go!

Excellent opening post btw.
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Old 7 Mar 2018, 11:46 (Ref:3806600)   #4
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RWill2073 has a real shot at the podium!RWill2073 has a real shot at the podium!RWill2073 has a real shot at the podium!RWill2073 has a real shot at the podium!RWill2073 has a real shot at the podium!
Looking forward to the season. First race is on ABC. O/u on times Indy 500 is referenced during the race: 24. O/u on times the rest of the season or the championship is mentioned during the race: 4.
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Old 7 Mar 2018, 21:54 (Ref:3806736)   #5
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Thank God, I'm tired of watching Lanky Turtle's videos on a constant loop!
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Old 9 Mar 2018, 14:41 (Ref:3807076)   #6
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IndyCar are streaming P1 at 11:20am ET and P2 at 3:10pm ET.

http://racecontrol.indycar.com/
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Old 9 Mar 2018, 16:00 (Ref:3807091)   #7
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NaBUru38 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridNaBUru38 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridNaBUru38 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
I will miss Hélio all year long (except May).

You are welcome to the 2018 Bet 'Em IndyContest.
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Old 9 Mar 2018, 17:27 (Ref:3807115)   #8
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I'm pleasantly surprised to see 24 cars, an increase from last year. Are all of these full season? Or at least enough partial season teams to get to 24 or so every race?
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Old 9 Mar 2018, 20:31 (Ref:3807151)   #9
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I'm pleasantly surprised to see 24 cars, an increase from last year. Are all of these full season? Or at least enough partial season teams to get to 24 or so every race?
22 are full time. Juncos and Shank are part time. Still an increase of 1 full time car.
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Old 9 Mar 2018, 21:10 (Ref:3807161)   #10
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22 are full time. Juncos and Shank are part time. Still an increase of 1 full time car.
Two more than F1.
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Old 10 Mar 2018, 07:36 (Ref:3807192)   #11
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IndyCar are streaming P1 at 11:20am ET and P2 at 3:10pm ET.

http://racecontrol.indycar.com/
Thanks for sharing! Do you know which Europe tv channel or stream will cover the event live?
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Old 10 Mar 2018, 12:55 (Ref:3807237)   #12
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Thanks for sharing! Do you know which Europe tv channel or stream will cover the event live?
BTSport/ESPN are showing it in the UK, so maybe a European channel with a deal like ESPN has with BTSport?
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Old 10 Mar 2018, 19:34 (Ref:3807272)   #13
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Not much interest for qualifying I gather. Interesting session. Completely shook up order.
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Old 10 Mar 2018, 19:45 (Ref:3807276)   #14
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Speedblood should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridSpeedblood should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Cracking fast 6 shootout, 3 rookies in the top 4 outdoing more experienced teammates. I didn't think Wickens would top Power but what a lap.
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Old 10 Mar 2018, 23:22 (Ref:3807293)   #15
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Purist is going for a new lap record!Purist is going for a new lap record!Purist is going for a new lap record!Purist is going for a new lap record!Purist is going for a new lap record!Purist is going for a new lap record!
And in one of the earlier stages, King (I think it was) set a new outright lap record for the track, despite the aero changes. I'm curious to see the onboard telemetry; the last year or two, top speeds down the front straight were about 165 mph, and I'm guessing that's up a bit with the new package.

Assuming this is the case, it will be interesting to see the impact at subsequent street circuits, as well as a road course like Road America. I am concerned that the increased accordion effect and more difficult cornering will hinder racing at places like Barber and Sonoma. I also hope the cars are able to continue to run fairly close to one another at Indy, Texas, and Pocono (though I'd be fine if they were just a bit more spread out at Texas than was the case last year).
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