Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg [Live Thread]

3/25/12 in IndyCar   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

After a long offseason of change, and with Dan Wheldon's memory in everyone's thoughts and hearts, the IZOD IndyCar Series gets back on track with its season opening race, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, as Debi previewed on Friday. St. Pete was Dan Wheldon's adoptive home town. The area of turn 10 on the race track has been renamed Dan Wheldon Way is his honor, and Dan's memory will certainly be honored and remembered today.

Above all else though, Dan would've wanted the racing to go on, and now we can finally see what the great unknowns of new cars and new engines can do in racing conditions. Everyone is watching the battle between Honda and Chevy, and so far Chevy has the upper hand. The Chevys occupy the top five spots on the grid, led by, who else, Will Power on the pole. Honda could only manage one driver in the Firestone Fast Six, and surprisingly, it wasn't any of the Ganassi boys, but the Sam Schmidt car driven by Simon Pagenaud. Unfortunately for Pagenaud, he was given a 10 spot grid penalty due to an unapproved engine change. Thus, he will start 16th, but is expected to be dangerous today and is a sleeper pick to win. Defending series champ Dario Franchitti will start 9th.

In addition to how the new cars will do, many eyes will be on Rubens Barrichello, as the F1 vet makes his series debut. A mechanical problem early in practice dropped him behind early, but he recovered to start 13th.

Green flag is at 1:00 today on ABC. Hopefully the first turn won't result in carnage from impatient drivers, but given the history here, I doubt it.

The newest era of IndyCar begins today. Q it up here as it happens.
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3/28/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
I was sorry to see the issues the car had today.  I won't say I was surprised, and I know you weren't either.   It is going to be a few races before everyone is comfortable, no doubt.  I heard it said a lot today that the teams want more testing time.  Is there any possibility of that, have you heard? I mean, other than the obvious practice sessions before the races.  

Oh, and I can't wait until the next race.  Thought it was heart wrenching for TK (I think) to say that he loves the new car, even with the troubles he had, and that it is a year too late.  If the car had been in effect last year, he said that he felt Dan would still be with us.  (correct me, please if you know who said it for sure)

Well, I can answer the testing question better now. According to Curt Cavin, April 4 will be a test at Indianapolis. He also said on Trackside last night that a test is being planned at Phoenix, either right before or right after Long Beach. The car definitely needs oval testing, so good news all around (as long as you don't mention the just announced Houston race).

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
I was sorry to see the issues the car had today.  I won't say I was surprised, and I know you weren't either.   It is going to be a few races before everyone is comfortable, no doubt.  I heard it said a lot today that the teams want more testing time.  Is there any possibility of that, have you heard? I mean, other than the obvious practice sessions before the races.  

Oh, and I can't wait until the next race.  Thought it was heart wrenching for TK (I think) to say that he loves the new car, even with the troubles he had, and that it is a year too late.  If the car had been in effect last year, he said that he felt Dan would still be with us.  (correct me, please if you know who said it for sure)

If anyone was surprised there were issues, than I'm not sure what planet they're on. The fanbase was looking forward to more mechanical issues as a way to make things less predictable.

I haven't heard anything about any testing from now until practice starts at Indy. I'm sure teams would jump on it if there were, but I don't think there's time with 4 races in 6 weeks and a trip to Brazil.

Can't remember who said that about the car and Dan. To be honest, that's not a hypothetical that can be answered, so I don't really think about it.

Tony from PopOffValve had it right. This was like a pilot episode. There are only so many conclusions that can be made after just one weekend. On to Barber to learn more.

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Eric_ wrote:
It's a new car. There will be teething problems, and the anti-stall device is clearly one of them. Overall though, I think the car did pretty well. I think once drivers get a hang of it (and enough spare parts get made), the racing will get even better. I wouldn't call the race an instant classic, but ABC made it look worse than it was.

I was sorry to see the issues the car had today.  I won't say I was surprised, and I know you weren't either.   It is going to be a few races before everyone is comfortable, no doubt.  I heard it said a lot today that the teams want more testing time.  Is there any possibility of that, have you heard? I mean, other than the obvious practice sessions before the races.  

Oh, and I can't wait until the next race.  Thought it was heart wrenching for TK (I think) to say that he loves the new car, even with the troubles he had, and that it is a year too late.  If the car had been in effect last year, he said that he felt Dan would still be with us.  (correct me, please if you know who said it for sure)

3/25/12   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Eric_ wrote:
It's a new car. There will be teething problems, and the anti-stall device is clearly one of them. Overall though, I think the car did pretty well. I think once drivers get a hang of it (and enough spare parts get made), the racing will get even better. I wouldn't call the race an instant classic, but ABC made it look worse than it was.

Oh I know, that's expected.  That's my point, they haven't quite worked out all the kinks yet.  It's the same deal with the electronic fuel injection system in NASCAR this year.  Just ask Tony Stewart about it.  He shut the car off to save fuel under caution at Phoenix, and the car wouldn't refire.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

kramer wrote:
I did watch a little of this race, and good job for the top 2.  Scott Dixon apparently had nothing but bad luck at that race, and how little I follow Indy car racing, I found it hard to believe Castroneves didn't have a single win last year!

On a side note, it looks like Indy cars have some kinks to work out just as NASCAR does with their new electronic fuel injection systems.  A couple drivers were victims of the "anti-stall" device today.

It's a new car. There will be teething problems, and the anti-stall device is clearly one of them. Overall though, I think the car did pretty well. I think once drivers get a hang of it (and enough spare parts get made), the racing will get even better. I wouldn't call the race an instant classic, but ABC made it look worse than it was.

3/25/12   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

I did watch a little of this race, and good job for the top 2.  Scott Dixon apparently had nothing but bad luck at that race, and how little I follow Indy car racing, I found it hard to believe Castroneves didn't have a single win last year!

On a side note, it looks like Indy cars have some kinks to work out just as NASCAR does with their new electronic fuel injection systems.  A couple drivers were victims of the "anti-stall" device today.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

(Edited by Eric_)

Final results. Top 2 were the usual two teams (but not the drivers we thought), but otherwise a very jumbled lineup.

1. Helio Castroneves
2. Scott Dixon
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay
4. James Hinchcliffe
5. Ryan Briscoe
6. Simon Pagenaud
7. Will Power
8. EJ Viso
9. Charlie Kimball
10. Justin Wilson
11. Josef Newgarden
12. Graham Rahal
13. Dario Franchitti
14. Marco Andretti -1 lap
15. Alex Tagliani -1 lap (top Lotus)
16. Oriol Servia -1 lap
17. Rubens Barrichello -2 laps (he pitted with one lap to go and stayed there for some reason)
18. Ed Carpenter -2 laps
19. JR Hildebrand DNF (Off Course- ran out of fuel per team twitter account)
20. Mike Conway DNF (Mechanical)
21. Sebastien Bourdais DNF (Off Course)
22. Takuma Sato DNF (Electrical)
23. Katherine Legge DNF (Off Course)
24. Simona De Silvestro DNF (Mechanical)
25. Tony Kanaan DNF (Mechanical)
26. James Jakes DNF (Contact)

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

According to Panther Racing, JR somehow ran out of fuel, despite being the car in the best position on fuel. Must've not gotten enough in the tank.

Dario it looks like ran out of fuel on the last lap. He ended up 13th despite being 9th or 10th at the white flag.

3/25/12   |   Canadianhick   |   2149 respect

Very touching thing Helio did there climbing "Dan Wheldon Way".

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
And Helio wins the race, followed once again by Scott Dixon....Damn, these two have been here before!

Hey, I said race to race could be different, but overall we know how it's going to be. wink

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Helio wins and fittingly climbs the fence on Dan Wheldon Way. Great race by Helio. That pass on Dixon was awesome.

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

And Helio wins the race, followed once again by Scott Dixon....Damn, these two have been here before!

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Marco needs to recognize that he is a factor in this race only in how he is being a PITA to the other drivers.......

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Tim Cindric says Helio's good to go. Not sure how, but OK.

Chevy, meanwhile, is dominating. 7 of the top 10 are Chevys.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Now Conway with gearbox problems.

If this goes the green the rest of the way, Briscoe and JR look to be in the best position to make it to the end, but clearly attrition is becoming a factor.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Helio's really looking good now. Great pass on the outside on Dixon.

Unfortunately, it looks like mechanical gremlins have ended Sato's great day.

Helio leads Dixon, but no guarantee either can make it on fuel.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

We're about to get our first look at Beaux Barfield's officiating style, as Helio punts Ed.

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

(Edited by Debi_L)

Oriol Servia's Lotus fails.........

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Wilson actually in 5th. Newgarden looking real good in 6th. Last restart he passed Power and Pagenaud.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

The last group of cars to pit have pitted. The leader is now Takuma Sato, followed by Mike Conway, Dario, and Briscoe. Wilson has quietly gotten into the top 6.

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

I'm a jinx frown

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Now Simona is stopped. Festival of car failure now, and of course it's all the fan favorites having issues.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Damn, TK is stopped. Battery died (at least that's what they're going to say publicly).

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Katherine Legge and Lotus wins the First Mechanical Failure award. A bunch of cars, including Power, pitted before the yellow came out.

Are you surprised? 

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

The top 10, lead by Briscoe, did not pit. Power is 11th, followed by Dario and TK. Everyone after 10th pitted right before that caution.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Katherine Legge and Lotus wins the First Mechanical Failure award. A bunch of cars, including Power, pitted before the yellow came out.

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Quiet start so far, but that's better than first corner insanity. My guess is everyone's starting out conservative. Understandable given that this the first big test of the car.

Even with testing, they aren't going to be as at home in the car as they are used to.  

Full course caution, but a few cars got in some pit stops...

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Quiet start so far, but that's better than first corner insanity. My guess is everyone's starting out conservative. Understandable given that this the first big test of the car.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
I know Will Power will probably win it, but i gotta take TK. 

I'd forgotten about Newgarden driving for Sarah Fisher!!! He'd my dark horse :)

Newgarden has been really impressive this weekend. He's been up there despite his inexperience. Of course, he also just made his first rookie mistake. wink

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

First three laps in the book and no crash!!!

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

I know Will Power will probably win it, but i gotta take TK. 

I'd forgotten about Newgarden driving for Sarah Fisher!!! He'd my dark horse :)

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Race control link is here. About half the field starting on reds, and half on blacks.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Over/under is 5 cars involved in the first lap melee.

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

It was very well done.  Now we get to go racing :)

3/25/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

I guess this feature is a closure for the drivers who were there and had to live thru this, but damn, it is so hard to watch....

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Forgot to make a pick for the race. Going with Power.

3/25/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hinchcliffe came out in his Danica wig. He's been nicknamed Manica by some. This being Hinch, he has no problem going with it.

Also, in potential future news, the president of Pocono is at the race, and met with Randy Bernard this weekend. Hmmm...