2021 NTT IndyCar Series preview: St. Petersburg

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series heads to St. Petersburg, Florida for the Firestone Grand Prix, the same race that ended the 2020 campaign. In that race, Josef Newgarden took the win while chasing six-time champion Scott Dixon for the title. Since Dixon finished third, Newgarden fell 16 points short of the championship.

The 2021 season started in chaotic fashion at the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama as Newgarden crashed and took out Felix Rosenqvist, among several others, on the first lap. The race became a pit strategy battle between Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou. Palou led 56 of the 90 laps to pick up his first-career victory in only his second season as a full-time IndyCar driver. Will Power finished second while Dixon finished third.

Colton Herta will start on the pole for St. Petersburg on Sunday. This is his first pole position since the second Mid-Ohio race in 2020, a race that he ended up winning. Herta will look to rebound from the opening race at Alabama that saw him retire on lap 25 after getting caught up in the Newgarden crash on the opening lap.

Starting beside Herta is Jack Harvey, who finished 11th last week at Alabama. Harvey is looking for his second IndyCar podium with his first coming in the 2019 Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Team Penske teammates in Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud will start third and fourth. Newgarden hopes to avoid another first-lap crash while Pagenaud will hope to stay in the top 10 after finishing 12th at Alabama.

O’Ward and Sebastien Bourdais will start fifth and sixth. O’Ward finished fourth at Alabama despite leading the second-most laps with 25, losing the pit strategy to Palou. Bourdais is coming off a top-five finish at Alabama (fifth) and will compete for his first win since winning the 2018 race at St. Petersburg.

Rinus VeeKay and Dixon will start seventh and eighth. VeeKay is coming off a sixth-place finish at Alabama in his second full season in IndyCar while Dixon looks to win his first race since the first of two at Gateway last season.

Rounding out the top 10 is Graham Rahal and Palou, last week’s race winner. Rahal finished seventh at Alabama and Palou hopes to build off his season-opening win at Alabama in his first season with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Power, who was last week’s runner-up, will start 20th.

Coverage for the Firestone Grand Prix at St. Petersburg will begin at noon EST. You can catch the race on NBC.

Starting lineup:

1st – Colton Herta
2nd – Jack Harvey
3rd – Josef Newgarden
4th – Simon Pagenaud
5th – Pato O’Ward
6th – Sebastien Bourdais
7th – Rinus VeeKay
8th – Scott Dixon
9th – Graham Rahal
10th – Alex Palou
11th – Alexander Rossi
12th – James Hinchcliffe
13th – Ryan Hunter-Reay
14th – Scott McLaughlin
15th – Takuma Sato
16th – Marcus Ericsson
17th – Felix Rosenqvist
18th – Romain Grosjean
19th – Conor Daly
20th – Will Power
21st – Ed Jones
22nd – Max Chilton
23rd – Jimmie Johnson
24th – Dalton Kellett

Course layout:

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Fast Facts - POPULAR OPENWHEEL

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