St. Petersburg Grand Prix reinstated; expected to be IndyCar’s new finale

IndyCar
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After initially announcing the race was canceled, IndyCar and Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg organizers apparently will reschedule the race as the 2020 season finale.

In a release announcing the rescheduling of the Indianapolis 500 to Aug. 23, a copy of the revised schedule for 2020 listed “Streets of St. Petersburg” as “TBD Expected Finale.”

St. Pete would replace Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, which played host to the championship finale last year for the first time in two decades. This year’s race at Laguna Seca remains on Sept. 20.

The new schedule also lists new dates for Mid-Ohio (Aug. 9), Gateway (Aug. 30) and Portland (Sept. 13), mostly to accommodate moving the Indy 500 out of May for the first time ever.

There also are no dates listed for the Circuit of the Americas and Barber Motorsports Park, effectively canceling those races.

During a March 12 news conference in St. Petersburg, Mark Miles and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman had cast serious doubt on the likelihood of rescheduling the street race, whose course of concrete barriers and catchfencing takes several weeks to construct.

From a series point of view, that would be very difficult,” said Miles, who is the CEO of the company that runs IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Nobody knows what the next several weeks or months are going to look like. You have multiple considerations. We’ve built a track. It’s tough to build it twice. There are television considerations. It would be highly unlikely to reschedule this.”

During a conference call Thursday, Miles said the support of Kriseman had made the logistics possible for returning to St. Petersburg — possibly with a date at the beginning of October or slightly later for the new season finale.

“I’ve spoken to the mayor at least twice in the last three days,” Miles said. “He’s an IndyCar fan. He’s a true believer in the value of a race at St. Petersburg for his community.

“They just never gave up. They’re making some arrangements that make it more feasible logistically. I think they’ll try to keep up some of their stands, not completely reset as I thought they might have had to. The key was their persistence and their appreciation for what (the race) brings to them.

“It’s just such a superb event to be in South Florida to start the season every year. In this case, we’ll be doing it to end the year. We’ll be back to open the season in March 2021. We think that’s special.”

In a release Thursday from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg stated, “IndyCar announced earlier today that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is expected to be rescheduled for later in 2020. The event was originally set for March 13-15, 2020. This shift to a later date is in support of the NTT IndyCar SERIES’ efforts to run as many of its points championship races as possible in 2020 and would be expected to serve as the season finale round.

“The rescheduled date is subject to the ongoing guidance and mandates of national, state and local authorities regarding public gatherings. The health and safety of all associated with this event will remain the priority of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Previously purchased tickets to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg would be valid and honored on the rescheduled date yet to be determined.”

Here is the updated 2020 IndyCar schedule as listed in a release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

Saturday, May 30 

Streets of Detroit Race 1

Sunday, May 31

Streets of Detroit Race 2

Saturday, June 6

Texas Motor Speedway

Sunday, June 21

Road America

Saturday, June 27

Richmond Raceway

Saturday, July 4

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

Sunday, July 12

Streets of Toronto

Saturday, July 18

Iowa Speedway

Sunday, Aug. 9

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Sunday, Aug. 23

Indianapolis 500 Mile Race

Sunday, Aug. 30

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway

Sunday, Sept. 13

Portland International Raceway

Sunday, Sept. 20

WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca

TBD expected finale

Streets of St. Petersburg

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