Will Power, debris dominate halfway through Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

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Oprah’s not on site in St. Petersburg, but if she was, a potential line might be: “You cause a debris caution! He causes a debris caution! Everyone causes a debris caution!”

Yes, there have been quite a few cautions in the first 55 laps of IndyCar’s season opener at St. Petersburg – five in fact – with three full-course cautions being caused by a multitude of front and rear wings being being clipped.

The other important news is that Will Power is continuing where he left off with his 2014 Verizon IndyCar championship.

Power has led most of the race’s first 55 laps, with the only disruptions being pit cycles.

The Team Penske domination sprung eternal in the top five, with Power and his three teammates, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud in Helio Castroneves figuring prominently in the top five for most of the race.

Scott Dixon ran into trouble during his Lap 23 pit stop. The Ganassi driver dropped from the lower half of the top 10 down to 23rd after his crew dealt with an airjack issue.

The No. 9 car pitted again during the full-course yellow on Lap 27 and currently runs in the top 20.

The only driver to exit the race was Carlos Huertas, whose No. 18 Honda was knocked out due to a steering column issue.

The Dale Coyne Racing driver, started and finished 24th and last, told ABC he “couldn’t turn properly to the right” and the problem quickly grew worse.

Lap 44 saw the biggest incident to date as Simona de Silvestro hit the back of James Jakes in Turns 13 and 14, which brought out the fourth caution.

St. Petersburg is the only race de Silvestro is currently scheduled to race in for Andretti Autosport.

The fifth caution was thrown on Lap 54 when Graham Rahal tapped Charlie Kimball into a tire barrier, with Kimball limping due to left rear bodywork damage incurred following prior contact from Simon Pagenaud.

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

IndyCar St. Pete fans
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”