Darren Manning: No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda/Firestone * Manning on St. Pete: "I'm looking forward to returning to St. Pete because I have some unfinished business there. This will be our first race of the year where we have a good...
Darren Manning: No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda/Firestone
* Manning on St. Pete: "I'm looking forward to returning to St. Pete because I have some unfinished business there. This will be our first race of the year where we have a good set-up going in based on our experience from last year and I see that being the case for the rest of the year. St. Pete's the first of those races so I'm a little anxious to see how it all goes."
* Manning on new qualifying procedure for road/street courses: "I think it's good because it will build more excitement for the fans. It makes qualifying more of an event. Before we had just one lap which is why we used tire warmers. We don't have tire warmers this year but the field is split in half and each group gets a 20-minute session. You have to try to get a clear lap which can be challenging. They'll take the fastest six from each group and then those 12 guys will get a 15-minute session to determine the fastest six who will then go into the Firestone Fast Six. It should get quite good over the course of the season. Hopefully, we'll be in the top-six overall so it won't matter."
Note: The cars that don't advance to the top 12 are gridded according to their lap times from 13th back, and those cars that don't advance to the Firestone Fast Six, are gridded in positions 7 through 12 according to their lap times in the Top 12 session].
* Manning on street courses: "The street courses have no margin for error. Unlike the road courses where you can horse a car around, on the street courses you must be very precise-know how to drive the cambers, bumps and manhole covers. It suits my style of driving."
* Manning's record at St. Pete: His first time on the street course was in 2003 driving for Walker Racing in the CART Series where he started 11th and had climbed to sixth. Midway through the race he lost the clutch on a pitstop and was finished for the day, placing 13th. In 2004, he drove for Ganassi Racing, where he was third quickest in practice sessions, but a sticky throttle hampered him in qualifying so he started 16th. In the race, he climbed to second and then on his final stop, he took fuel only allowing him to lead three laps. He was running second when Tony Kanaan made contact with Manning, dropping him to eighth. He ran out of fuel on the final lap and finished ninth.
* Manning's R & R in Florida: With his parents Peter and Val visiting from the United Kingdom, Manning took the opportunity for some rest and relaxation in Naples. "I played a couple of games of golf with my dad, and my spotter Larry Arnold [who lives in an Indy suburb] joined us one day. My mum would keep us company-she doesn't play," said Manning, adding, "But I was working out every day too."