Five things to know about St. Petersburg

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After 175 days since the season finale at Sonoma Raceway, IndyCar will swing back into action on the streets and runways of St Petersburg, Fla.

The first of four street courses (along with Long Beach, Belle Isle and Toronto), this 1.8-mile circuit has hosted races since 2005. It kicked off the season in 2009 and every year since 2011. Getting off to a strong start on the Streets of St. Pete does not necessarily translate to season-long success in part because most of the temporary circuits are front-loaded in the year while ovals and permanent road courses dominate the second half.

Here are five things to know about this week’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:

  1. St. Petersburg has been won in back-to-back seasons three times, but no one has ever won three consecutive. Sebastien Bourdais won in 2017 and 2018. The first 12 runnings of this race were won from a starting position of 9th or better. The last two have been won from 21st in 2017 and 14th in 2018.
  2. In 14 races, four drivers have multiple wins at St. Petersburg: Will Power, Bourdais and Juan Pablo Montoya have two; Helio Castroneves has three. The winner of this race has gone on to win the championship three times: Dan Wheldon in 2005, Dario Franchitti in 2011 and Power in 2014.
  3. This race has been won from the pole only twice (Castroneves in 2007 and Power in 2010) and from the outside pole once (Franchitti in 2011).
  4. Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan are the only drivers to start every race on this track. Kanaan has been running at the finish of all but one of those races. Dixon has retired four times.
  5. Ten countries are represented among 24 entrants: the United States with 10 (three from California, two from Ohio and Florida with one each from Tennessee, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, England has three, there are two each from Brazil, Sweden and France, plus one each from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates and Japan.

MORE: Sebastien Bourdais hopes another fast start lasts all season 
MORE: Five things to watch for in the 2019 IndyCar season 

 

 

NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series begins on March 10 with the Streets of St. Petersburg at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app. Watch the entire 2019 IndyCar season on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold.

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AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”