April 3 in Motorsports History: At St. Pete, a 1-2-3-4 for Andretti Green


A race with a 1-2 finish by teammates isn’t unusual in IndyCar. In fact, it’s happened 149 times since 1946.

The 1-2-3 finishes by teammates are less common but still happen: 12 times since 1946 the podium has been swept by drivers from the same team. Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden and Will Power did it most recently in IndyCar’s 2017 season finale at Sonoma Raceway.

Andretti Green Racing’s drivers celebrate after recording the first 1-2-3-4 finish in IndyCar history. Photo: Michael Voorhees/IndyCar

But on April 3, 2005, Andretti Green Racing’s drivers did something that hadn’t been done before and has yet to be achieved since.

AGR drivers Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta finished 1-2-3-4 in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Wheldon took the lead of the race on Lap 92 when Ryan Briscoe and Kanaan made contact in Turn 10. He then held off a hard-charging Kanaan for his fifth IndyCar victory and his second of the season. Franchitti and Herta (the pole-sitter) rounded out the top four.

“It’s fantastic for Andretti Green Racing to get a 1-2-3-4. It was difficult as it is anytime you have TK breathing down your neck, so I’ve got to pat myself on the back for that,” Wheldon said. “I was a little concerned about my brakes, but they seemed to hold up, and they need to when you have that green thing (Kanaan’s car) behind you. When you see 7-Eleven in the mirror, you know he’s going to try anything he can. Fortunately, I kept him at bay.”

Wheldon took control of the IndyCar points lead with his win and would capture four more victories that season, including the Indy 500, en route to the 2005 championship.

The race is also notable for being the first street course event in the nine-year history of the Indy Racing Leauge and the first race promoted by Barry Green and Kevin Savoree (who were co-owners of Andretti Green at the time). Green-Savoree Racing Promotions continues to promote the race at St. Pete, and the company also promotes IndyCar races at Toronto, Mid-Ohio, and Portland.

Also on this date:

1977: Mario Andretti won the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the only time an American won the event under Formula One sanction. Andretti would win three more times at Long Beach, including IndyCar’s inaugural race at the street circuit in 1984.

1988: Alain Prost won the season-opening Grand Prix of Brazil, the first of seven victories for the Frenchman in 1988. The race was the last time Formula One opened its season in the month of April.

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Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”