[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”34″ display=”basic_thumbnail”]Over this past weekend, St. Petersburg’s downtown was abuzz. IndyCar held its first race of the year, the 15thannual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Over three days, the cars run on a temporary street circuit using the normally relaxed waterfront area near The Dalí Museum. From Albert Whitted Airport up 1stStreet, the track snakes around Al Lang Stadium and Pioneer Park, then down Bayshore Drive, and back to the airport.
Fans packed the grandstands all weekend, taking in all of the IndyCar action along with the five other series that were also racing. The three-tiered Road To Indy program, consisting of Indy Lights, Indy Pro 2000, and U.S. F2000, provided thrilling open-wheel racing. These three series are for young drivers hoping to make it to IndyCar in the future. The Blancpain GT World Challenge brought both the GT4 America Series and TC America series to St. Petersburg this year. These cars are racing-spec version of production cars such as the Ford Mustang, McLaren 570, Porsche 718 Cayman, and Audi R8.
In IndyCar, Team Penske driver Will Power took his eighth pole position in St. Petersburg, though he has only won here twice before (2010, 2014). Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, who resides in St. Petersburg, would be defending his two consecutive hometown wins of 2017 and 2018. Both drivers were hoping to add another St. Pete winner’s trophy to their collection. Both would be denied.
Bourdais’s car retired on Lap 11 with an engine fire. Power ended up third behind the 2018 series champion Scott Dixon, who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing. Josef Newgarden, who is one of Power’s teammates, took victory at the end of the day.