St. Pete results year-on-year: Penske rolls on; Dixon moves up

Photo: IndyCar

With the opening round of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series in the books, it’s worth doing a quick look at where each driver finished to kick off their new campaign in comparison to last year.

The Team Penske domination on the streets of St. Petersburg rolls on, and that’s the single biggest takeaway.

Last year, they got all four of their cars in the top five. This year, they got the three full-season drivers again in – so that’s seven top-fives of a possible eight in the last two years for “The Captain’s” quartet. Juan Pablo Montoya, of course, has gone back-to-back.

Of course, that comes with a slight asterisk since Will Power was ruled out due to his mild concussion and didn’t race. Oriol Servia did fine under the circumstances and would have had a better result if he wasn’t caught up in the Turn 4 pileup on Lap 57.

Elsewhere, Takuma Sato, Scott Dixon and Carlos Munoz led the movers forward from year to year. Charlie Kimball had an 11-spot increase year-to-year. For Dixon, who ended 15th last year, seventh was a better result than what he’s generally used to here.

Big drop-offs were felt for Tony Kanaan, down six spots but still in the top 10, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal who lost five spots apiece compared to last year, and notably, the two official retirements in Sebastien Bourdais and Josef Newgarden.

Drivers with an asterisk listed are rookies. Last year Gabby Chaves was the top rookie in 17th; this year, interestingly, it’s the driver that replaced him in the No. 98 Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda in Alexander Rossi who’s ended top of the first-timers in 12th.

It’s a small sample size for sure, but interesting to note as the year is about to kick off and to see who moves where in the points standings.

2016 2015
1 Juan Pablo Montoya 1 1
2 Simon Pagenaud 2 5
3 Ryan Hunter-Reay 3 7
4 Helio Castroneves 4 4
5 Mikhail Aleshin 5
6 Takuma Sato 6 13
7 Scott Dixon 7 15
8 Carlos Munoz 8 14
9 Tony Kanaan 9 3
10 Charlie Kimball 10 21
11 Jack Hawksworth 11 8
12 Alexander Rossi* 12
13 Conor Daly* 13
14 Spencer Pigot* 14
15 Marco Andretti 15 10
16 Graham Rahal 16 11
17 Max Chilton* 17
18 Oriol Servia 18
19 James Hinchcliffe 19 16
20 Luca Filippi 20 9
21 Sebastien Bourdais 21 6
22 Josef Newgarden 22 12
23 Will Power WD 2
24 Gabby Chaves* 17
25 Simona de Silvestro 18
26 Sage Karam* 19
27 Stefano Coletti* 20
28 Francesco Dracone 23
29 Carlos Huertas 24

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

Petit Le Mans lineup

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.



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