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.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III