IndyCar notes: Hinch begins St. Pete track construction; IMS ticket unveiled

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A couple quick news and notes from the IndyCar world, as we enter the final month of five this offseason before the season opener:

  • 2013 St. Petersburg winner James Hinchcliffe (right) headed down to the site of this year’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to help participate in the ceremonial start of the track build. More than 20,000 feet of steel-reinforced concrete block will line the picturesque but challenging 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit that incorporates a runway of Albert Whitted Airport. Said the Canadian, who’s also riding high on the backs of his national hockey team’s double Gold medal-winning performance in Olympic hockey, “Obviously, with what happened last year, it holds a special place in my heart. It was a very emotional day last year on race day for all the right reasons.”
  • While the “Mayor of Hinchtown” was deployed to St. Pete, 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan was at the Crane Bay Event Venue in downtown Indianapolis to unveil the 2014 race tickets for this year’s race. The tickets feature the likeness of the defending champion; it’s the latest in a series of events Kanaan has done to promote his win, which this winter also included receiving a “Baby Borg” and “Mini Baby Borg” from BorgWarner for both him and son, Leo.
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will make a team announcement regarding its third driver on Wednesday for the Indianapolis 500, although the identity of that driver already has been released by RACER.com on Monday night. We’ll do further posts after the official announcement, and what it could mean for the sport and/or the race at that time.

Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

 

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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