By Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel
The INDYCAR season continues this weekend with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Open Wheel will be covering the action all weekend so stay tuned to this site and our Twitter page @openwh33l for all of the latest news.
Photo by Parker Hall/The Open Wheel
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Preview: Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Spotter Guide – Race 1: Saturday, April 24th, 2021 3:10PM (ET) Peacock & Race 2: Sunday, April 25, 2021 9:50AM (ET) Peacock – HMD Motorsports and their partners Global Racing Group dominated the opening weekend at Barber Motorsports Park so it will be interesting to see how that translates to the Streets of St. Petersburg. Race wins have been spread across the different Indy Lights teams fairly evenly in recent years so there isn’t necessarily one team to watch out for historically. Championship leader and Race 1 winner at Barber Motorsports Park Linus Lundqvist could be at a disadvantage this weekend as he’s never raced in St. Pete while a majority of his competitors have in various levels of the Road to Indy ladder.
NTT INDYCAR SERIES Preview: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Sunday, April 25, 2021 12:00PM (ET) NBC – After a wild opener at Barber the NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads to St. Pete after racing at the circuit just seven months ago where Newgarden won a crazy race and Dixon did just enough to win his sixth championship. It’s a big race for Newgarden with his past success at the course and his crash at the start of the season opener this week. He needs a big points day to not fall too far behind in the championship race.
Previous driver experience at St. Pete shows five former winners in the field in Sebastien Bourdais (2), Josef Newgarden (2), Will Power (2), James Hinchcliffe (1), and Graham Rahal (1). Newgarden has won the last two races in 2019 and 2020 after Bourdais won consecutively in 2017 and 2018. Looking at the box scores from the last two St. Pete races in 2020 and 2019, only Scott Dixon and Newgarden finished in the Top 5 in each of the last two races. If that’s expanded to the Top 10, those two are joined only by Simon Pagenaud.
My pick to win: Race: Pato O’Ward – After a pole and plenty of pace last weekend at Barber, I expect O’Ward to be a man on a mission this weekend as he continues to seek his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory. He finished on the podium at St. Pete last year and has multiple wins on the circuit in the Road to Indy ladder.
My fantasy.indycar.com picks: Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Romain Grosjean – You know my thoughts on O’Ward. Rossi but in a surprisingly good performance at Barber, a circuit he famously doesn’t enjoy, and that bodes well as he returns to St. Pete where he likely should have won last year before a mistake sent his car into the barriers and ended his day early. Hunter-Reay is almost guaranteed a Top 5 at St. Pete based on history if and when he’s able to finish. He just needs to be spared some bad luck on track and avoid the mayhem that always seems to catch him for some reason. Grosjean has been solid all through testing and the opener last weekend and I expect him to provide good value for his $21 price tag.