IPS: St. Pete: Guthrie Racing preview

SEAN GUTHRIE AND TOM WIERINGA HIT THE STREETS OF ST. PETERSBURG FOR FIRST TWO ROAD COURSE RACES OF INDY PRO SERIES SEASON - Guthrie Racing swept both rounds in 2006 -- ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (March 28, 2007) -- Guthrie Racing's Indy Pro Series...

SEAN GUTHRIE AND TOM WIERINGA HIT THE STREETS OF ST. PETERSBURG FOR FIRST TWO ROAD COURSE RACES OF INDY PRO SERIES SEASON
- Guthrie Racing swept both rounds in 2006 --

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (March 28, 2007) -- Guthrie Racing's Indy Pro Series team, with drivers Sean Guthrie and Tom Wieringa, is headed to the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. for the "Grand Prix of St. Petersburg," the second and third of 16 races in 2007 for that series, to be held on Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1. Guthrie Racing, with driver Raphael Matos, won both races of this event in last year's appearance in St. Petersburg.

The team has had a very busy week leading up to the St. Petersburg event after Sean Guthrie was run into and over by another competitor in last weekend's "Miami 100" at Homestead-Miami Speedway, severely damaging his #4 Guthrie Racing Car Crafters Special. He was uninjured in the accident, but the car will need extensive repairs in order to race again. The team elected to lease a backup machine from fellow competitor Brian Stewart Racing, working non-stop to get it ready for Tuesday's open test on Homestead's road course. The team ran highly competitive laps during the test and are now ready to hit the streets of St. Petersburg with two in-tact cars, hoping to repeat last year's Guthrie Racing success where the team swept the first two street races on the schedule.

Car owner Jim Guthrie, although disappointed with the way last weekend turned out, is extremely proud of his team's efforts in preparation for the upcoming race: "The story is how these guys basically inherited a roller, with no harness or anything, and built a car in a day and a half that's now running competitive times. Plus they changed over Tom's (Wieringa) car, set everything up and were ready to test by Tuesday. We built and prepared three cars in two days, which I think is pretty amazing."

Sean Guthrie was hard at work with the team getting his new mount ready for the test, and reflected on the highs and lows from this past week: "It was a disappointing finish in Homestead. We were running in the top five, and I really expected to finish on the podium. The car was really good. It was really unfortunate for myself, but mostly for my team. At this point, though, I'm just glad Pablo (Perez, the other driver in the accident) will be relatively OK. And, of course, I'm glad to get on with our schedule and go racing this weekend in St. Pete.

"Since the accident, we arranged to pick up a spare car from another team, and our guys put in a tremendous amount of work to get the car done, and then some," Sean said in appreciation of his team's efforts. "We even ran faster at this past week's test than at the previous open test in February. The car is really comfortable, and the good news is that there's a lot of time left in it. We'll take it to St. Pete and look over the data to see what other areas we can improve in, and get ready to race. Not only am I excited about our testing results, but I'm really encouraged by my team's past results in St. Petersburg, winning both races last year as a new team. I certainly hope to duplicate those results this year -- I don't think a "fourpete" has ever been done in the Indy Pro Series, but that would be nice for our team to claim."

Tom Wieringa, whose 12th-place finish in Homestead gave him a solid start to the year, is also eager to head to the streets of St. Pete after learning a lot during Homestead's road course test this past Tuesday: "It's really wonderful working with a former IndyCar driver (car owner Jim Guthrie) -- it's really the best of both worlds. It's great getting advice from a driver's perspective because he knows exactly what I need to do to decrease my lap times. As an owner, he's also a great coach and mentor for me in my career. It's really nice to get advice from someone who knows exactly what I'm feeling. To compare data with my teammate Sean is also really helpful."

The "Grand Prix of St. Petersburg" is operated by Andretti Green Promotions. The course, which was used by the Indy Pro Series and the IndyCar Series for the first time in 2005, utilizes several public streets in downtown St. Petersburg, including stretches of 1st Street South, Central Avenue and Bay Shore Drive, and a runway at Albert Whitted Airport.

After conquering the "Grand Prix of St. Petersburg" races, the Indy Pro Series warriors take a break before the all-important "Freedom 100" event, held at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on Friday, May 25th.

-credit: gr

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Jim Guthrie , Tom Wieringa , Sean Guthrie