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

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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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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).