Fast Facts: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Associated Press
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Courtesy of INDYCAR PR, here’s all you need to know ahead of this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the Verizon IndyCar Series’ first round of the new 2016 season:

Track: 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit (clockwise)
Race distance: 110 laps / 198 miles
Entry List:  Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Click link to download Entry List PDF)
Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for 15 seconds each
Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, three sets alternate
Twitter: @GPSTPETE, @IndyCar, #FirestoneGP, #IndyCar
Event website: www.gpstpete.com
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2015 race winner: Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet)
2015 Verizon P1 Award winner: Will Power (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) 1 minute, 0.6931 seconds (106.676 mph) in Firestone Fast Six.
Qualifying lap record: Will Power (1:00.6509; 106.841 mph) set on March 28, 2015, in Segment 2 qualifying.

ABC race broadcast: Sunday, March 13 (12:30 p.m. ET). Allen Bestwick is the lead announcer for ESPN on ABC broadcasts for the third consecutive year alongside analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever Jr. Pit reporters are Rick DeBruhl, Dr. Jerry Punch and Jon Beekhuis.

Video Streaming: All practice sessions for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be available on the INDYCAR YouTube channel www.youtube.com/indycar and RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Qualifying for races telecast by ABC will also be available via live streaming.

Radio broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying is broadcast on Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com,indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions plus Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires practice and qualifying are on IndyCar.com,indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

At-track schedule (all times local): 

Friday, March 11

10:50 a.m.-12:05 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice)
3:40-4:55 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice)

Saturday, March 12

11:55 a.m.-12:40 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice)
3:40 p.m. (Three rounds of qualifications)

Sunday, March 13

9-9:30 a.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series warm-up)
12:30 p.m. ABC on air
12:52 p.m. Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg green flag

Race Notes:

* Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing begins defense of his 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at St. Petersburg. Dixon, the longest-tenured driver for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, captured the title in thrilling fashion, winning the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to finish in a tie with Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya in points. Dixon earned the championship by virtue of more race wins in the season. Dixon’s four season championships tie him with greats Mario Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais and Dario Franchitti for second on the all-time Indy car list, trailing only the seven titles collected by A.J. Foyt. Dixon, is fifth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 38. He has three runner-up finishes at St. Petersburg but has never won at the circuit.

* With seven victories in 12 races at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Team Penske is the winningest Verizon IndyCar Series team at St. Petersburg. Four Team Penske drivers have visited Victory Lane at St. Petersburg. Helio Castroneves has won three times at the venue (2006, 2007, 2012), while Will Power has two St. Pete wins to his credit (2010, 2014). Juan Pablo Montoya won the 2015 season opener at St. Petersburg after qualifying fourth. Ryan Briscoe opened the 2009 season with a victory for Team Penske. Chip Ganassi Racing has won four of the last 11 Verizon IndyCar Series openers (Homestead: 2006, 2007, 2008; St. Pete: 2011).

* Team Penske has won the pole position for six of the last nine St. Petersburg races, including four of the last five poles with Power. The St. Petersburg winner has qualified fourth the last three seasons.

* Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 250th consecutive race, which would extend his Indy car-record streak that began in 2001 at Portland. Dixon has made 191 consecutive starts.

* After a record-tying 11 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers scored wins in 2014, there were nine different winners in the 16 races of 2015. An equally tight competition is projected for the 2016 season.

* Four drivers will make their first start this weekend at St. Petersburg – Max Chilton, Conor Daly, Alexander Rossi and Spencer Pigot. All are Sunoco Rookie of the Year award candidates. Daly has competed in six Verizon IndyCar Series races and makes his full-season debut with Dale Coyne Racing. Pigot was the 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion and has won at the track five times in Mazda Road to Indy series. Chilton, who joins Chip Ganassi Racing after a year in Indy Lights, and Rossi, who races with Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, both competed in Formula One.

* The 2016 season will be the second in which aerodynamic bodywork component kits are used. The aero kits, produced by engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda for their respective supplied teams, are the latest technical innovation to enhance on-track performance through competitive aerodynamic development. Each manufacturer produces two kits for teams – one for short ovals/road courses/street courses and another for superspeedway ovals – but within each kit, teams have multiple component options available.

* The second season of aero kit competition complements the fifth year of engine manufacturer competition between Chevrolet and Honda with their 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. It will be another season testing speed and durability to determine the manufacturer champion.

* The overtake assist, or “push-to-pass,” for each car has increased by 20 horsepower to a total of 60 horsepower for 2016. Drivers may engage their overtake assist a total of 10 times during the race.

* The 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the 13th Indy car race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Paul Tracy won the inaugural race on Feb. 23, 2003, under CART sanction. Sebastien Bourdais, entered in this year’s race, started from the pole. He is a St. Petersburg resident. With the exception of 2004, the race has been run every year since.

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 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


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