Andretti Autosport head into the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg, the opening race of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season hoping to kick start a better season compared to 2016.

In 2016, the team’s best result came when then rookie driver Alexander Rossi took victory at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil where he led home Carlos Munoz giving Andretti Autosport a 1-2 finish at the most famous motor race on earth.

The 2017 season is a fresh start for the Indianapolis based outfit with several changes at the team having taken place over the off-season.

Takuma Sato has joined the team replacing Carlos Munoz who has gone the opposite way replacing him at AJ Foyt Racing. Speaking ahead of the opening race, Takuma Sato commented by saying:

I enjoy St. Petersburg each year. It welcomes us with Florida’s typical warm weather after a long winter and has great restaurants, very enthusiastic fans, cool street-course scenery, lots of energy and excitement and, of course, it’s a challenging track that I love — so it’s the perfect venue for the opening race. I only had a single day of the road course testing this pre-season, which is a quite challenging for me especially with new environment I have, but the test went well and we leaned a lot. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel in my first race with Andretti Autosport.

Marco Andretti makes his 12th Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg and will be hoping for a strong start to the season and speaking ahead of the season opening event, Andretti commented by saying:

It’s important for us to get a good start in St. Pete this weekend — it will set the tone for the season and we want a strong, positive tone. I’ve been working hard through the offseason, both physically and mentally, and I’m ready to get the year started. I always look forward to the opening weekend; St. Pete is a great place to kick off the year. It’s a great setting, the weather is perfect and it’s a track that leads to good racing.

Ryan Hunter Reay is looking forward to the start of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series and speaking ahead of this weekend’s race he commented by saying:

There’s no better place to kickoff the Verizon IndyCar Series season than the streets of St. Pete. Not only is it one of my favorite street courses, it is essentially my home race, and the perfect place to start the year. We’ve finished runner up in St. Pete on a couple of occasions, so we’re looking for that breakthrough win. This team has worked tirelessly over the offseason, but now it’s time to put all that hard work to the test. We’ll be working hard this weekend to rebound from last season and get the DHL Honda into victory lane.

Alexander Rossi enters into his second season in the Verizon IndyCar Series, this year with primary sponsorship with NAPA Auto Parts for select races starting this weekend with the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg and speaking ahead of the race, Rossi commented by saying:

This offseason has been anything but calm, however it has only fueled the excitement to get back into my race car. I am in a completely different space from where I was 12 months ago after finding my new home in the Verizon IndyCar Series. There is a lot of optimism in the team and we are all looking to come out of the box with momentum on our side. Having NAPA AUTO PARTS on the car for the season opener is fitting considering the relationship that we’ve built, and also because I feel like it’s the best looking car on the grid. We are ready to go, St. Pete can’t get here soon enough.

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