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What to watch for: IndyCar at St. Petersburg (12:30 p.m. ET)

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Verizon IndyCar Series opens its 2016 season with a number of interesting story lines, with the most interesting one actually developing Sunday morning regarding Will Power’s status.

Here’s what to watch for from the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (12:30 p.m. ET, ABC, with 12:52 p.m. green flag):


Will Power set another track record and scored his sixth pole position at St. Petersburg in the last seven years. Yet he will not be able to start due to nausea diagnosed during the weekend.

Oriol Servia filled in in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet in warmup and was brought in on standby for the race, and just got confirmed.

Since he starts, he has experience in these type last-minute situations before. In one of his most memorable drives, he went from 14th on the grid up to second driving for Gerry Forsythe’s team in an injury fill-in role for Paul Tracy at the 2007 Champ Car World Series race at Long Beach.


The last five years dating to 2011 have seen five different winners at St. Petersburg (Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, James Hinchcliffe, Power and Juan Pablo Montoya). Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay are the three Firestone Fast Six qualifiers absent of a St. Petersburg win who could get their first today.


Arguably the surprise of a weekend from a pace standpoint has been A.J. Foyt Enterprises, which has clicked with both Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth in the Nos. 14 and 41 ABC Supply Co. Hondas. Both drivers traditionally overachieve at the circuit and look for solid top-fives or so here.


Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin make their series returns and there’s also a quartet of rookies – Conor Daly, Alexander Rossi, Max Chilton and Spencer Pigot – making their first St. Petersburg starts. Daly has several career starts while the latter three make their series debuts.


This is a three-stop race with roughly 17 or 18 laps of a window per pit stop cycle. The window opens as early as Lap 14 and runs through Lap 31 for the first cycle.

Honda tended to have an edge on Chevrolet on fuel mileage throughout 2015 and it will be interesting to see whether Chevrolet has closed the gap this season.


The race can’t be won on the opening lap but it certainly can be lost that way. Both Turns 1 and 4 are trouble spots, with Turn 1 serving as the more traditional problem child.



Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.