St. Pete race ticket renewals now available; track time one to watch

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While it won’t be the official season opener for the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2015, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg does serve as the kickoff to the North American campaign and the debut of aero kits for IndyCar next year.

Fans interested in renewing their tickets for next year to the Green Savoree Promotions event can now do so, via the link on the race website homepage.

This was perhaps glossed over in the midst of the rule changes announcement INDYCAR made a little more than a week ago, but St. Petersburg has one day listed by INDYCAR as an on-track Promoter Day – Friday, March 27.

The timing of that date is very significant. The St. Pete weekend should be a barnburner, as besides IndyCar, all three Mazda Road to Indy series (Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000) and the Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTA/GT Cup and GTS classes will be in action.

The track has not released a weekend schedule yet, and one of the things to watch will be how much track time each series gets.

If IndyCar only runs Friday as a test day without official sessions, that would leave the majority of the running to the other five classes that day. It would be similar, in a sense, to the Friday that occurred at Sonoma Raceway this year, where PWC and MRTI were on-track all day and there was no IndyCar on-track running at all.

The complication in terms of track time comes with PWC’s split of the GT and GTS classes into standalone races for next season. Through this year, GT and GTS raced and practiced together, but were split for qualifying. Next year, a split is expected for all of practice, qualifying, and the races.

So while the amount of actual series racing on the weekend doesn’t increase – the same five championships that ran at St. Pete will do so again in 2015 – how each series works with the race promoter to determine how much track time they’ll get is going to say a lot.

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.