IPS: St. Pete: Jay Howard preview

Jay Howard on the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: "Well, it'd be great to start off this weekend in St. Pete the way I did last week at Homestead, by winning the pole, but then finish things off with a win, instead. That's the first and foremost...

Jay Howard on the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:

"Well, it'd be great to start off this weekend in St. Pete the way I did last week at Homestead, by winning the pole, but then finish things off with a win, instead. That's the first and foremost item on my list. Then, hopefully, we can back that up and really impress by winning from the sixth position in the second race (with the inverted starting grid). If not just that way, then the goal is to come away after the two races with as many points as possible. I've never been on a street track before, but that shouldn't be of any concern. Last week was my first race on an oval, and it didn't turn out too badly. My road racing skills are at work this weekend. The only difference will be that with the concrete walls, many of the corners will be completely blind. But we'll figure it out, I'm certain of that."

Jay Howard Facts:

* Howard opened the season last Sunday at Homestead Miami Speedway by winning the pole position in his first start with the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team. He led 50 laps but dropped out of the lead on a Lap-60 restart and held on for a third-place finish.

* The 25-year-old from Basildon, England, who lives in St. Petersburg, won the Formula Ford Zetec championship in his rookie season in 2005, breaking Dan Wheldon's single-season victory record with nine wins. He also earned six pole positions. Six of his nine wins came consecutively to also establish a new series record. He also won the 2003 Formula Ford Zetec championship in his native England with four wins and seven pole positions.

* Howard also won his only race last season in the Star Mazda Series at Mosport, Ontario.

* With his pole position at Homestead last weekend, Howard became the fifth series rookie to earn the pole in his very first start, joining A.J. Foyt IV, Thiago Madeiros, Marco Andretti and Sarah McCune.

* Howard owns and operates his own karting team in St. Petersburg, called Screaming Talent. He moved to the U.S. full-time in January, 2005.

Sam Schmidt, President, Sam Schmidt Motorsports:

"We had a relatively successful test at Sebring with Jay and our other drivers (Jaime Camara and Jonathan Klein), so hopefully that translates into great results in the two races this weekend. The double-race format is unique. It'll be interesting to see if people play it conservatively in the first race because they're inverting the top six for the second race. We'll see how it plays out. Jay had a great race car at Homestead last weekend. A little problem on his restarts likely cost him the race win. But third place is not a bad way to start the season. He's new to this series but he has a lot of experience. And he definitely knows his way around a road course."

-ssm

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers A.J. Foyt IV , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Marco Andretti , Sarah McCune , Jaime Camara , Jay Howard , Jonathan Klein