ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., (Sunday, April 5, 2009) -- Junior Strous won the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Race 2 Firestone Indy Lights event, completing a sweep of the doubleheader weekend. Strous edged pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra...
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., (Sunday, April 5, 2009) -- Junior Strous won the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Race 2 Firestone Indy Lights event, completing a sweep of the doubleheader weekend. Strous edged pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra by .4428 of a second to become the third Firestone Indy Lights driver to open a season with two victories.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE NOTES:
* Junior Strous sweeps the doubleheader set of races at St. Petersburg. He is the third driver to win the first two races of the season, joining Mark Taylor (2003) and Alex Lloyd (2007). Both of those drivers went on to win the championship.
* This is the third time a driver has swept a doubleheader weekend in the 11 times the format has been used. All three of the sweeps have occurred at St. Petersburg. Raphael Matos won both races in 2006, and Lloyd won both races in 2007.
* Sebastien Saavedra finished second, earning the first podium finish of his career.. He finished 26th yesterday due to mechanical problems.
* James Hinchcliffe finished third, earning the first podium finish of his career. He finished sixth yesterday.
* Jonathan Summerton finished fourth, improving 12 positions from his 16th-place starting spot.
* The top four finishers are rookies.
* Daniel Herrington finished fifth, the second top-five finish of his career.
* Charlie Kimball finished seventh, improving 11 positions from his 18th-place starting spot.
* Rodrigo Barbosa improved 12 positions to finish 13th after starting 25th.
* Sergey Mokshantsev improved 13 positions to finish 14th after starting 27th.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE QUOTES:
JUNIOR STROUS (No. 18 Shell V-Power Knaus HTP, first): "The team has done an amazing job. We're a new outfit so this gives us a lot of confidence for our next race at Long Beach. We saved our tires in qualifying, so for both races we had a new set of tires while the other guys ran used tires. Both races it was hard to get the temperature in, but after about ten laps the Firestones really gave me enough grip to win the race."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., second): "I'm much more happy than yesterday. The team did a great job with the setup. We had the perfect car, and I was able to push it as hard as I could. In the last restart, I don't think I had as much temperature as I would have liked in the tires, so I was not able to break him (Strous). But I'm happy. It is a great success for AFS/Andretti Green Racing. We'll hope for the best next race."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, third): "It's a really tough track, especially in this heat. It was slippery out there. I don't think we had the quickest car, but the No. 7 Hinchtown.com car was very consistent. We just managed to drive smart and stay out of trouble. I think that was the key today. I don't know if I would have been able to make it in front of some of the guys without that. We were running seventh for a good part of the race. But like I said, I was able to keep my nose clean. There were some close calls out there. The team did a great job. They worked hard on this car all weekend long, so for us to finish on the podium is just awesome."
JONATHAN SUMMERTON (No. 9 Andersen Racing/Allied Interior Products, fourth): "It was awesome - tons of fun. We went from 16th to fourth. I don't think you could have asked for much more. My goal was top five and we did it. We had a car that I know could have won the race. It's just a shame we couldn't get clear air to run the lap times, because I know we had the fastest car out there for sure. The car was awesome. Allied and Andersen have done a good job putting the car together. I really thank them this weekend. We started off rough and ended on a high."
DANIEL HERRINGTON (No. 28 LeBleu/Bryan Herta Autosport, fifth): "It went pretty well. We obviously took advantage of some incidents out there and made one or two passes. We made some changes overnight that really helped out the car. The car was much faster than it showed, it's just really hard to get around this place with other cars. So we took advantage where we could and ended up fifth, which was great. We got a pretty solid result out of it. It's too bad we couldn't have started further up, because I think we could have run in the top three speed-wise."
Junior Strous is the first driver to win the Firestone Repeat Bonus for winning back-to-back races since the program was introduced at the start of the 2008 season. Strous wins $5,000 and is eligible to win another $5,000 if he wins on the streets of Long Beach on April 19.
Andretti Green Promotions and the City of St. Petersburg announced today they will discuss an extension of their current agreement in the near future.
"We met as recently as last night to discuss our interest in adding an additional year to our current agreement, which runs through 2013," said Kevin Savoree, co-owner of Andretti Green and Managing Director of the Honda Grand Prix. "Our agreement provides a timeline for that process and that timeline begins April 30. Mayor Baker and I share a passion for this event, for sure, and we're looking forward to sitting down later this month."
Andretti Green also confirmed it is working with Indy Racing League officials to determine the date for next year's event, with full knowledge that Easter Weekend falls on the first weekend of April, 2010.
The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues April 19 with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the streets of Long Beach, Calif.. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 126. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be telecast at 6 p.m. (EDT) on April 6 by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 19 at Long Beach. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on April 20 by VERSUS.