ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The 2016 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be held Friday, March 11 through Sunday, March 13, 2016. Here are some fast facts and important information if you plan to go.
Track: 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit (clockwise)
Race distance: 110 laps / 198 miles
Entry List: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (see below)
Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, three sets alternate
2015 race winner: Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet)
2015 Verizon P1 Award winner: Will Power (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) 1 minute, 0.6931 seconds (106.676 mph) in Firestone Fast Six.
Qualifying lap record: Will Power (1:00.6509; 106.841 mph) set on March 28, 2015, in Segment 2 qualifying.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, March 11
10:50 a.m.-12:05 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice)
3:40-4:55 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice)
Saturday, March 12
11:55 a.m.-12:40 p.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series practice)
3:40 p.m. (Three rounds of qualifications)
Sunday, March 13
9-9:30 a.m. (Verizon IndyCar Series warm-up)
12:52 p.m. Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg green flag
Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing begins defense of his 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at St. Petersburg. Dixon, the longest-tenured driver for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, captured the title in thrilling fashion, winning the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to finish in a tie with Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya in points. Dixon earned the championship by virtue of more race wins in the season. Dixon’s four season championships tie him with greats Mario Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais and Dario Franchitti for second on the all-time Indy car list, trailing only the seven titles collected by A.J. Foyt. Dixon, is fifth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 38. He has three runner-up finishes at St. Petersburg but has never won at the circuit.
With seven victories in 12 races at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Team Penske is the winningest Verizon IndyCar Series team at St. Petersburg. Four Team Penske drivers have visited Victory Lane at St. Petersburg. Helio Castroneves has won three times at the venue (2006, 2007, 2012), while Will Power has two St. Pete wins to his credit (2010, 2014). Juan Pablo Montoya won the 2015 season opener at St. Petersburg after qualifying fourth. Ryan Briscoe opened the 2009 season with a victory for Team Penske. Chip Ganassi Racing has won four of the last 11 Verizon IndyCar Series openers (Homestead: 2006, 2007, 2008; St. Pete: 2011).
Team Penske has won the pole position for six of the last nine St. Petersburg races, including four of the last five poles with Power. The St. Petersburg winner has qualified fourth the last three seasons.
Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 250th consecutive race, which would extend his Indy car-record streak that began in 2001 at Portland. Dixon has made 191 consecutive starts.
After a record-tying 11 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers scored wins in 2014, there were nine different winners in the 16 races of 2015. An equally tight competition is projected for the 2016 season.
Four drivers will make their first start this weekend at St. Petersburg – Max Chilton, Conor Daly, Alexander Rossi and Spencer Pigot. All are Sunoco Rookie of the Year award candidates. Daly has competed in six Verizon IndyCar Series races and makes his full-season debut with Dale Coyne Racing. Pigot was the 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion and has won at the track five times in Mazda Road to Indy series. Chilton, who joins Chip Ganassi Racing after a year in Indy Lights, and Rossi, who races with Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, both competed in Formula One.
The 2016 season will be the second in which aerodynamic bodywork component kits are used. The aero kits, produced by engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda for their respective supplied teams, are the latest technical innovation to enhance on-track performance through competitive aerodynamic development. Each manufacturer produces two kits for teams – one for short ovals/road courses/street courses and another for superspeedway ovals – but within each kit, teams have multiple component options available.
The second season of aero kit competition complements the fifth year of engine manufacturer competition between Chevrolet and Honda with their 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. It will be another season testing speed and durability to determine the manufacturer champion.
The overtake assist, or “push-to-pass,” for each car has increased by 20 horsepower to a total of 60 horsepower for 2016. Drivers may engage their overtake assist a total of 10 times during the race.
The 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the 13th Indy car race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Paul Tracy won the inaugural race on Feb. 23, 2003, under CART sanction. Sebastien Bourdais, entered in this year’s race, started from the pole. He is a St. Petersburg resident. With the exception of 2004, the race has been run every year since.
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