The 2016 IndyCar season is underway.
Round 1 held today on the downtown streets of St Petersburg, Florida provided a very good gauge as to what to expect in 2016.
Penske Racing strong and fast across all four cars. The weak link maybe the team mates all racing each other as the season goes on and the risk of tripping up on each other as we saw in the season closer in 2015. The surprise on race day to see Will Power not make the start after the effects of the crash from practise and now on the concussion check list as well. He will have time to recover before round 2 but will now have no points on the board after the opening round. Stand in driver and super sub these days Oriol Servia doing a great job but very hard to do a lot with very little time in the car and forced to start from the rear of the grid. Montoya while wining the race having steering arm issues with the car in the closing stages but now a back to back winner and certainly on form in 2016 and when he wins he simply just gets stronger.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing -- Scott Dixon clearly the team leader no question of that. The weak link there maybe the support he can get from the team mates if it becomes a championship battle again. TK doing a good job to finish inside the top ten with a car the seemed to not suit him and using Dixon's race set up for there race and having brake issues across the whole race weekend. Concerns from the race the team and for Dixon suffering with overheating issues, its the same sort of issue that cost him the win in 2015 at Indy. Homework from the team will be required there for sure.
Andretti Autosport -- the leading Honda team but looking like a lack of sponsorship on all the cars and one has to wonder if funding will come into play. Hunter Reay the man to beat within that team. Macro Andretti needing to get results in 2016 that's for sure.
In the solid performances bracket Sato for AJ Foyt Racing and Aleshin for SMP Racing good strong runs and both Honda powered and earning good results.
The season now is underway and the teams have a few weeks until round 2 at Phoenix on April 3rd a track that will be new in the 2016 line up but the teams gaining fresh knowledge after several days of pre season testing there just a few weeks ago. There is however nothing like a race weekend to make the teams know its game time again.
Constant theme across the event was talk of the 100th running of the Indy 500 and teams very clearly thinking that before the championship at this stage and once again proving the pulling power that Indy has. That insight will be there for you to read in my new book Mystique of Indy Inside the Brickyard out soon so keep an eye out for it. Plus if you live in New Zealand I am pleased to say I am back on the radio on race days with Glen Larmer and TAB Trackside radio to bring race reports including live coverage from Indy in May both on qualifying weekend and race weekend.
The results then of today's Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the opening Verizon IndyCar Series race held on the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg street circuit are reflected below.
The order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (3) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 110, Running
2. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 110, Running
3. (5) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 110, Running
4. (2) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 110, Running
5. (17) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 110, Running
6. (10) Takuma Sato, Honda, 110, Running
7. (4) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 110, Running
8. (12) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 110, Running
9. (19) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 110, Running
10. (13) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 109, Contact
11. (9) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 109, Running
12. (18) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 109, Running
13. (20) Conor Daly, Honda, 109, Running
14. (21) Spencer Pigot, Honda, 109, Running
15. (14) Marco Andretti, Honda, 109, Running
16. (6) Graham Rahal, Honda, 109, Running
17. (16) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 109, Running
18. (22) Oriol Servia, Chevrolet, 109, Running
19. (8) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 109, Running
20. (15) Luca Filippi, Honda, 108, Running
21. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 87, Contact
22. (11) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 47, Electrical
Winner's average speed: 89.006 mph
Time of Race: 02:13:28.4650
Margin of victory: 2.3306 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 16 laps
Lead changes: 4 among 4 drivers
Pagenaud 1 - 48
Daly 49 - 63
Montoya 64 - 81
Montoya 85 - 110
Verizon IndyCar Series Point Standings: Montoya 51, Pagenaud 43, Hunter-Reay 36, Castroneves 32, Aleshin 30, Sato 28, Dixon 26, Munoz 24, Kanaan 22, Kimball 20.
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Photos of Juan Pablo Montoya after wining the 2015 Indy 500 from Perspective Group Ltd - Media and David Turner