Romain Grosjean fastest in practice debut with Andretti Autosport at St. Petersburg

IndyCar St Petersburg practice
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

ST PETERSBURG, Florida – Friday’s opening practice of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season validated the street course speed of Andretti Autosport and the faith in Romain Grosjean moving to the team.

Grosjean, the Formula One veteran who will race full time in 2022 after becoming a fan favorite last year, turned a 1-minute, 1.0525-second lap around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile layout in downtown St. Petersburg to pace the first session for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (noon ET, NBC).

Andretti’s Colton Herta, the defending St. Pete winner who also won last year’s finale on the streets of Long Beach, was second fastest (1:01.1567), and teammate Alexander Rossi was sixth.

FRIDAY PRACTICE: Speed chart at St. Petersburg

NEW DIGS: Grosjean’s move to Andretti tops drivers switching teams

“I think we know we’ve got a very strong team,” said Grosjean, who took over the No. 28 Dallara-Honda vacated by Ryan Hunter-Reay. “We’ve got a very strong car. Up to us if we push each other.

“I think it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be exciting to learn from the other guys and also give some of my knowledge, but I joined the team, and you never know what you’re going to get. But first run in Sebring last week just brought me that feeling that we were going to go have a good baseline, and that’s the case again today.

“We just need to keep working and make sure that every weekend we’re performing well.”

Herta, who might have had a third dominant street course victory last season if not for a crash while chasing the lead at Nashville, said No. 26 team “brought it back where we left off from last year with the car. It felt really good. Surprising amount of grip.”

Will Power turned the third-fastest lap, followed by Simon Pagenaud (in his debut for Meyer Shank Racing) and Graham Rahal.

There were surprises deep in the field. Two-time series champion and St. Pete winner Josef Newgarden posted the 14th-fastest lap. Defending series champion Alex Palou (17th) and six-time champion Scott Dixon (19th) also struggled.

With a record-tying 26 cars entered at St. Pete, Herta expects the depth of the competitive field will mean practice sessions “that will probably be that mixed up” throughout the season.

“I think most of the teams are at the point where the rule has been stagnant for so long that there’s not so much to find, so everybody is pretty similar at this point,” Herta said. “There are some outliers at some tracks, but I never feel like somebody has a car that’s more than maybe a tenth (of a second), tenth and a half better then the second-place car. It’s always really close between teams.”

Said Power: “The parity is so close. No one has an advantage. We’ve got the absolute everything out of this car you can possibly get out of it, so it’s come down to the smallest of details. It’ll be an interesting year. There’s so many good guys that can win now. You can not really predict who will be on pole or who will win and then also who really will be in the mix of the championship.”

There will be another practice Saturday morning (9 a.m. ET, Peacock) before qualifying at 12:30 p.m. ET (Peacock).

Peacock to stream all Supercross and Motocross races in 2023, plus inaugural SuperMotocross Championship

Peacock Supercross Motocross 2023
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

NBC Sports and Feld Motor Sports announced that Peacock and the NBC family of networks will stream all 31 races of the combined Monster Energy Supercross, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and the newly created SuperMotocross World Championship beginning January 7, 2023 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California and ending October 14 in the place where Supercross was born: the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The combined series will create a 10-month calendar of events, making it one of the longest professional sports’ seasons in the United States.

The agreement is for multiple years. The season finale will air live on Peacock and the USA Network.

Peacock will present live coverage of all races, qualifying and heats across both series. The 31 total races will mark a record for the combined number of Supercross and Pro Motocross events that NBC Sports will present in a single season.

NBC, USA Network and CNBC will provide coverage of all races, including the SuperMotocross World Championship Playoffs and Final, through 2023 and beyond. For more information about the Peacock streaming service, click here.

“With our wide array of live and original motorsports offerings, Peacock is a natural home for Supercross and Pro Motocross races,” said Rick Cordella, Chief Commercial Officer, Peacock. “We’re looking forward to providing fans with an easily-accessible destination to find every race all season long, including the exciting finish with the newly formed SuperMotocross World Championship.”

MORE: A conversation about media rights created the new SuperMotocross World Championship Series

The NBC family of networks has been home to Supercross for the past several seasons and this is a continuation of that relationship. The media rights for both series expired at the end of 2022, which allowed Supercross and Motocross to combine their efforts.

In fact, it was that conversation that led to the formation of the SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

The SMX series will begin on September 9, 2023 after the conclusion of the Pro Motocross season. Points will accumulate from both series to seed the SMX championship, which creates a record number of unified races.

“The SuperMotocross World Championship adds a new dimension to the annual Supercross and Pro Motocross seasons that will result in crowning the ultimate World Champion,” said Stephen C. Yaros, SVP Global Media and Supercross for Feld Motor Sports. “We are thrilled to be extending our relationship with NBC Sports so our fans can watch all the racing action streaming live on Peacock and the option to also watch select rounds on NBC, USA Network and CNBC.”

Complete 2023 coverage schedules for Supercross, Pro Motocross and the SuperMotocross World Championship on Peacock, NBC, USA Network and CNBC will be announced in the near future.