2008 GP of St. Petersburg expanded field possible

Expanded Driver Field a Strong Possibility at 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg One of the many benefits of last week's confirmation that the IndyCar Series and the Champ Car World Series have unified open wheel racing in North America...

Expanded Driver Field a Strong Possibility at 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

One of the many benefits of last week's confirmation that the IndyCar Series and the Champ Car World Series have unified open wheel racing in North America is the strong possibility that race fans in St. Petersburg will see an expanded field for this year's Honda Indy St. Pete race.

In a press conference held earlier today in Homestead, Fla., IndyCar Series officials predicted that an additional eight to 12 cars could be on the grid for those IndyCar Series events, like St. Petersburg, held early in the 2008 calendar. The 2007 field included 18 cars for the IndyCar Series feature race.

"While we do not have confirmation of exactly how many of the former Champ Cars teams will be running in St. Petersburg this year, we are making plans for more teams and cars in our race," said Tim Ramsberger, vice president and general manager of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for Andretti Green Promotions. "We have been planning for this possibility all along and the addition of more cars may require us to adjust our schedule."

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in a Strong Position for Future Years

In Wednesday's IndyCar Series press conference, league founder Tony George indicated that future schedules -- starting as early as 2009 -- would most like have approximately 20 races, with about half of the races run on ovals and the other half run on road courses and temporary street courses, like the St. Petersburg 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit.

"In just four short years, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has quickly become one of the most successful and popular races run on a temporary street course in North America and that puts us in a very strong position as future IndyCar Series schedules are developed," said Kevin Savoree, managing director of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. "One of the real benefits of the unification of open wheel racing is that race fans will get the best of all worlds and having events like St. Petersburg, Long Beach and potentially street circuits in Canada and Australia all on the same schedule as the Indianapolis 500 is a wining situation for the fans and the motorsports community."

Three Things You May Not Know About the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (and the people who make it the World's Fastest Spring Break Party)

1. The first competitive right turn in both the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series, happened in 2004 in Turn 1 on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

2. More than 700 volunteers will work in a variety of locations during the three-day race weekend at the 2008 Honda Grand prix of St. Petersburg.

3. Scott Sharp, who drives for Patron Highcroft Racing in the American Le Mans Series, holds the record of 138 consecutive starts in the IndyCar Series. Sharp, who moved from the IndyCars to the ALMS this season, is a past IndyCar Series co-champion and also won the 24 Hours of Daytona.

-credit: gpsp

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp