IndyCar Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Live Thread

IndyCar's Cinderellas Hope to Make it Their Day [Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Live Thread]

3/24/13 in IndyCar   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - IndyCar Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Live ThreadAt first glance, the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg is business as usual. Ho hum, Will Power is on the pole again for the 4th straight time here at St. Pete. After him though, who would've guessed the following:
  • That Takuma Sato, in his first race driving for A.J. Foyt, would put the famous #14 car on the front row?
  • That Simona de Silvestro, freed from Lotus in her first race for KV, would be in the top five all weekend and qualify 3rd?
  • That the Frenchman that would qualify in the top six would be...rookie Tristian Vautier?
  • That a member of Dragon Racing would qualify in the top ten...and it's Sebastian Saavedra and not his much more accomplished teammate Sebastien Bourdais?
  • That Target Chip Ganassi would struggled all weekend, with Dario Franchitti starting 10th and Scott Dixon starting way back in 20th?
The whole weekend has been that topsy turvy, and the results are a tight field where almost anyone can win. Making things even more variable is the threat of rain. The radar indicates that rain will show up at some point during the race, which could mean taking all the strategies and throwing them out the window. Even if rain doesn't show up, the strategies will be different from previous years. IndyCar added 10 laps to the race distance, and as a result, it is almost certainly a three stop race for everybody, barring a ridiculous amount of yellow.

The other major issue going into the race is the state of Honda. They have had an awful weekend, with only Sato looking like he has the speed to contend for the race win. Vautier and Franchitti are their only other starters in the top 10. Chip Ganassi called out Honda in an interview with Jenna Fryer, casting doubt on Honda's commitment to winning. In the end, it's all about what happens in the race, and we'll see how Honda performs once the green flag drops.

Fittingly for March, there are plenty of Cinderellas trying to fit into the glass slipper in Victory Lane. Can one of them finish the job, or will the chalk hold out in the form of Will Power? In the end I'm picking Power, but watch for Sato, especially if it rains. Sato is one of the best in the wet, and rain could be just what he needs to get first IndyCar victory and put AJ Foyt in Victory Lane for the first time in quite a while.

Coverage starts on NBC Sports Network now, with the green flag at 12:40. Timing and scoring can be found here, and More Front Wing's Event Summary can be found here.

It's been a way too long offseason, but IndyCar is finally back, and the early indications are that it will be another exciting season!
Notify me by email about comments that follow mine. Preview

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Unofficial Results for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:

1. James Hinchcliffe (first career IndyCar victory, which he dedicated to Dan Wheldon)
2. Helio Castroneves
3. Marco Andretti (nice run for Marco, could his offseason work be paying off?)
4. Tony Kanaan
5. Scott Dixon (great run after starting 20th, ends up top Honda in what was a horrible weekend for them)
6. Simona de Silvestro (so close today, her time will come)
7. EJ Viso (after a big crash in Saturday practice, this was an impressive run)
8. Takuma Sato (after they changed his front wing, he was flying, they should've done it sooner)
9. Justin Wilson
10. Alex Tagliani
11. Sebastien Bourdais
12. Charlie Kimball
13. Graham Rahal
14. Ed Carpenter
15. James Jakes
16. Will Power -3 laps (when it goes wrong for him, it *really* goes wrong)
17. Oriol Servia -6 laps
18. Ryan Hunter-Reay DNF (Mechanical)
19. JR Hildebrand DNF (Contact)
20. Sebastian Saavedra DNF (Contact)
21. Tristian Vautier DNF (Mechanical, very impressive all weekend until the car broke)
22. Ana Beatriz DNF (Mechanical)
23. Josef Newgarden DNF (Mechanical)
24. Simon Pagenaud DNF (Mechanical)
25. Dario Franchitti DNF (Contact)

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

James Hinchcliffe wins the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, his first IndyCar victory!

Simona at the end had no tires. They were shot. With 2 laps to go, she got outside on turn 14 and got passed by Marco and TK. Then on the final lap, she just lost out to Dixon on a drag race to the line (Viso was involved to). Simona ends up 6th in a great run.

Full results to come. What a race.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Simona's tires are shot. Marco all over her with 2 to go.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Marco by TK for 4th. He sets his sights on Simona. 5 to go.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Meanwhile, TK is catching up to Simona, who is having tire pressure issues in addition to having to save fuel.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hinch is on blacks, Helio on reds. In theory, the reds should start wearing down soon. Hinch has 4 PTP's left. Helio 3 (we think).

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Great battle between Hinch and Helio with 13 to go. Simona's had to save fuel and thus fallen back, but still in 3rd.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hinchcliffe takes the lead on the restart! TK up to 4th.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Power pits to change his mirrors. He falls to 16th. Simona is now 3rd.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Bizarre incident where JR wrecked and ran over Power's car under yellow. Power has damage, including no mirrors.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Saavedra bins into the tire barrier on turn 10, and the caution is out again. Field pits for probably the last time. Top 5: Helio, Hinch, Power, Simona, Dixon.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Another mechanical gremlin, and this time it bites Vautier. The rookie was having a great run in 4th before pitting. That leaves Simona and TK to fight for 4th. Helio still leads by 3 seconds on Hinch. Power is about a second behind Hinch.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Now RHR has a stuck throttle. The champ is in the pits and drops a lap.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Servia pits...and can't get it going again trying to exit. Another clutch problem.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Newgarden is stopped on the track with a clutch issue. Awful luck for Josef and the Sarah Fisher Hartman team. They were having the kind of methodical move up through the field race that they needed.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Actually everyone pitted except Servia, Jakes (now in 7th), and the lapped cars of JR and Bia.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

(Edited by Eric_)

Caution for debris (which they did show getting picked up). Most of the field pitted. Helio remains in front, Servia didn't pit and is now 2nd, then Power, Hinchcliffe, Simona.

My bad: Servia now leads Helio.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Hinchcliffe by Power on the restart for 2nd, and two laps later, Simona got by Sato for 4th.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Contact between Beatriz and Kimball that involved Bourdais, Viso, and Servia as well. Saavedra and Hildebrand got into in turn 10, stopping JR and bringing out the yellow. Pagenaud is out with a separate mechanical failure.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Crazy restart and Helio's has the lead! Whole lot of other stuff happening to.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

WHOA! Dario Franchitti comes out of the pits and slams the wall! His bad luck from 2012 continues. Caution is out, but pits are open during the entirety of the caution, so everyone is pitting now.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Power has checked out a bit early, but we have passing all through the field, and it's being shown.

3/24/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Clean start!

3/24/13   |   Debi_L   |   11847 respect

On the track, doing warm up laps, scrubbing off the tires.  Yep, ready to get this season started! Woohooo!