Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti in the No.27 hhgregg Honda had an impressive start to his 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season on the opening day of the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
Andretti set the fastest time in the opening session and ended the second session in the afternoon with the eighth fastest time and speaking following the his day in the car, Andretti commented by saying:
Not a bad day for the hhgregg team. I had some traffic there (in the second session) on my quick lap, so I think our potential is greater than where we ended on the time sheet. We’ll make some small changes for tomorrow and hopefully qualify inside the Firestone Fast Six. Overall, I’m fairly happy. I think me having a clear head and just driving the race car — not overthinking things — is a weight off my shoulders.
In the opening session on Friday morning, Ryan Hunter Reay in the No.28 DHL Honda ended up in ninth place while in the afternoon, he finished the session in 16th place, just behind his fellow Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi and speaking following his day in the car, Hunter Reay commented by saying:
The second session was a bit of a bummer for us with some lost time. We spent some time working on the brake system… so we sat in pit lane most of the session. It’s unfortunate but we’ll get with our teammates here and hopefully come out tomorrow swinging. It’s still early, but our strategy for the weekend is to get the DHL Honda up to the top of the podium. We’ve finished runner-up here a couple of times and have finished third. I’m ready to finally get a win in my home state of Florida.
Alexander Rossi in the No.98 NAPA Auto Parts Honda ended the opening session in 12th place while in the second session he finished the day in 15th place and speaking following the day in the car, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion commented by saying:
I think it was a pretty decent day. We didn’t get a clear lap on the (Firestone Alternate) Reds at the end of the day, so our time on the Primaries was pretty respectable and I think it’s ok. There’s still a little bit to get from the NAPA AUTO PARTS car; I genuinely think we are close to the window. I’m not as unhappy as the time sheet may reflect, but there’s a gap to the front. We are pretty solidly into the top 10, but getting into the top three is something we need to work on overnight.
Takuma Sato who enters into his seventh season in the Verizon IndyCar Series set the 16th fastest time in the opening session but missed the second session after hitting the wall at Turn 12.
Speaking following his day in the car, Sato commented by saying:
It’s good to get back in the car. It was a very short first practice today, a 45-minute session. We showed some strength. In the second session, we had a problem and I didn’t put a time down. It’s difficult to say. I am excited to come back here and to get the season started. Hopefully we’ll have a good day tomorrow; I have a lot of things to catch up on.