Sato on top in St. Pete

2008 winner Graham Rahal ended up second fast on the day.

St. Petersburg, Fla. – The Verizon IndyCar Series opens its season on Sunday with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, a 110-lap race through the downtown streets. To prepare for the season opener, 22-cars and drivers took to the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course today in a pair of 45-minute practice sessions.

Twelve Honda-powered cars and 10 Chevrolet-powered cars are entered, and all of them practiced.

The first round of practice had adverse wind conditions and it sprinkled rain in round two.

For the day, Takuma Sato came away with the fastest lap with a speed of 103.578 miles per hour in the ABC Supply A. J. Foyt Racing Honda.

“The track conditions weren’t as good as usual, but still the car worked really well and we made good progress,” he said. “I am happy with the balance of the car, and the boys and the team worked really well today. We will work on our speed tomorrow.” Sato went on to praise the Foyt team for the accomplishments the team made over the winter.

Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda
Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda

Photo by: Rebecca McKay

Graham Rahal, the 2008 winner, and his National Guard Honda team overcame adversity, a hauler fire en route to Florida, to claim the second fastest lap of 103.494 mph.

Said the Ohio native, “It is always great to finish up toward the front, but most importantly, I have to thank our guys. 72 hours ago we had a trailer fire, and they had to bring another hauler from Indianapolis to get us here. Even when I strap into the car, I can still smell smoke. It covered everything. For us to be in the position we are means a lot to us. As dad (Bobby Rahal) told them last night ‘through adversity comes a team.’”

Will Power was third fastest and teammate Helio Castroneves was immediately behind the Australian. They were trailed by Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Briscoe.

James Hinchcliffe, the 2013 winner, led the way in the morning round with a speed of 102.967 mph. Justin Wilson, Sato and Power trailed the Canadian.

Making his comeback to IndyCar, Juan Pablo Montoya was 14th in the morning and dropped to 18th in the afternoon. The Verizon IndyCar Series will practice again in the morning and qualifications will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series INDYCAR
Article type Practice report
Tags chevolet, first race, florida, graham rahal, hinchcliffe, honda, indycar, season start, st. petersburg, takuma sato