Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden in the No.1 Hitachi Chevrolet for Team Penske started the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg fro 13th place following a tricky qualifying session on Saturday and went on to finish the 110 lap race in seventh place and speaking following the race, the Tennessee native commented by saying:
It was a messy P7 but for us it was a good top 10. It’s a decent start to the year. We had a great Chevy package – it’s just sad we couldn’t take better advantage of it. I felt we had really good power today from Chevrolet. The No. 1 Hitachi Chevy, overall, was pretty strong. We were just fighting all day to catch back up and we were on the wrong end on the fuel mileage and getting run into and cutting the tire didn’t help us. But I think if a couple of things would’ve gone differently, I really think a podium finish was in the cards for today.
It was a challenging race for Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet. The Australian who started the race from the front row of the grid alongside pole sitter Robert Wickens and following contact with the Canadian’s No.6 Lucas Oil Honda, Power spun and was forced to pit for a new rear wing.
Power recovered to finish the race in 10th place and speaking following the event he stated:
It was pretty wild at times. It was actually good racing at times, and you can get close to people. It is a good car to race. I was on the back foot from the very beginning. (Robert) Wickens and I touched in turn one and I spun around. There wasn’t a lot of room. That set us back and we fought the rest of the day. The field is just very, very competitive. There are good cars all through the field with many teams. But you can race close to people. You don’t get a draft, but you can almost get right behind them. They did a good job of making the kit with almost zero tow so makes the racing better I think. Not a perfect day, but we have a good No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet team, and we will come back ready to race at Phoenix.
Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 Menards Chevrolet started the race from 11th place and finished the event in 13th place. Speaking following the event, the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion commented by saying:
It was a hard fought day. We had a tire gun problem on the first stop and I feel bad for the Menards crew. That’s a tough thing to happen and they did such a good job on the next two stops. Unfortunately that put us back in the pack and we just couldn’t make up ground from there. I expected more tire degradation and that might have created some opportunities but that never happened. It’s definitely not the start to the season that we wanted but we know the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet is good and we know we will bounce back strong.